Building Customer Relations through Behavioural Energy Efficiency Programmes

Opower is educating the market about the potential of behavioural energy efficiency through its new microsite.
Published: Tue 01 Jul 2014

Opower has launched a website called Beepotential which shows the potential of energy savings through the implementation of behavioural energy efficiency programmes in the US, Canada and Europe.

The data, obtained from a study which was carried out by Opower, is aimed at regulators, policymakers, utilities and influencers and basically anyone who is thinking of how to address various energy efficiency challenges. The three continents have been chosen because they have the highest potential for behavioural energy efficiency. This is due mainly to high consumption and prices.

Capturing consumers’ attention

Emily Hallet, Associate Director of Solutions Marketing in EMEA, Opower, who presented on a recent Engerati webcast, “Quantifying the potential of behavioural energy efficiency in Europe” told Engerati that Opower would love to educate the market about how far behavioural energy efficiency can go towards meeting various energy efficiency goals and challenges.

Hallet explains that the aim of behavioural energy efficiency programmes is to capture consumers’ attention and provide them with the information they need to manage their energy consumption more effectively. While some question the sustainability of these programmes, Hallet explains that sustainability is possible through the implementation of real-time usage. Consumers should be able to access their consumption history and this can be done using in-home displays, for instance. Hallet says it is important that consumers receive consumption data which is targeted and personal-basically, data that they can act on.

“This will help consumers maintain savings, explains Hallet, “We measure the impact of our programme by measuring control groups so that the savings can be directly accounted for. Currently, we see savings maintained over the course of 5 years. As more customers become aware of programmes, savings are bound to increase.”

Today, consumers appear to be maintaining behavior changes and are also making more energy efficient choices.

Investing in customer relationships

In many countries, utilities need to invest in their relationship with the customer in order to see results in energy behavioural efficiency programmes. In order to reap the benefits, utilities need to give customers the tools to manage their own consumption, explains Hallet. She goes on to explain that this is a good way for utilities to distinguish their service and remain competitive.

Today, utilities certainly have the opportunity to understand their customer base better as they are gathering customer interactions via various channels which can lead to higher levels of cross-selling. Customers are also benefitting from this as the tools used will help them to manage their consumption more effectively.

But, what about the return on investment? Hallet points out that the value of the utility-customer relationship outweighs the programme’s cost. She says that too much focus has been placed on the structural side instead of the behavioural side.

With regards to real-time pricing, Hallet believes that this won’t always affect customers’ choices as they don’t always understand them. “Pricing signals won’t have much impact if people don’t understand the pricing signals. However, by incorporating pricing signals to behavioural programmes, a huge impact can be made on consumption levels.”