It’s hard to buy just Internet or home phone or cable services anymore without getting a package, always at a “bundled discount”, of course. Various home product and service providers are also offering home energy management services and equipment (in-home displays (IHD) and/or smart thermostats) to help residential customers better manage their electricity usage with the added benefit of convenience.
Today, you can buy home energy management equipment through retailers like Target and Amazon.com or, just as likely, as part of a home services package from companies, like ADT. Interestingly, my cursory search among some larger utilities did not show too many home energy technology options or links.
Accenture’s analysis shows that smart devices have the potential to allow energy consumers to save energy and reduce their bills by changing their behaviors based on direct (emphasis mine) feedback of energy usage information. The analysis reviewed more than 75 IHD trials in North America, Europe and Australia.
A couple of highlights stand out:
- Residential home users consume measurably less energy—an average of 7.9 percent less, in response to IHD feedback, and 90 percent of trials showed energy savings.
- Users save the most when they get feedback in real-time (less than 30 seconds), and energy-saving behavior persists over time, as IHDs help users understand their consumption patterns and lock in new habits.
As an IHD product or service provider, I would be sure to include four things attributes in a winning solution:
- It has to be mobile. Consumers must be able to have easy and constant ‘command and control’ from their tablet or Smartphone. A key factor in IHD’s impact is the immediacy of feedback and interactive control that users can exert over their own energy use and profile.
- It has to be channel-ready. IHDs must integrate with other home products and services. The marketing/sales delivery of IHDs and the displays themselves must accommodate, and invite other products and services in a way that consumers accept and appreciate.
- It has to be customer specific. While a certain segment of customer respond well to active participation and real-time feedback, our research has shown that a substantial number of consumers want a ‘set & forget’ option. Thus, home energy management solutions cannot be treated as a one size fits all.
- It has to be social. As we’ve highlighted in one U-Blog, social mores matter and consumers like to compare not only their own past and present usage but that of their peers and neighbors as well: 60 percent of consumers feel a degree of social pressure to participate in environmentally friendly activities.
What’s the optimal market role for your utility in helping market, sell and deliver home energy management products and services, including but not limited to getting consumers to use less energy?