Feedback on energy consumption to consumers offers considerable potential for energy savings, with hundreds of programmes involving millions of customers having been conducted around the world. [Engerati-Of the soft benefits of residential feedback and education programs]
Savings from feedback
A new study from VaasaETT for the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE) suggests that savings of at least 6% per year would be realistic for households in that country with electric heating and no automation. For the average consumer this would mean a saving of 976kWh. This would increase to 1,217kWh for a detached house, and higher still for a larger household. These savings could be further increased if more optimal feedback channels, best practice and latest tools were applied to the feedback mix. Conservative estimates put average energy savings at around 11% per year or 1,774kWh if such conditions were applied, even if automation is excluded. This would represent in the range of NOK900-950 (€110) for an average household in Norway.
If the savings were continued for two years, which is considered a realistic minimum for an initial feedback programme, they would total approximately NOK3.6 billion (€429 million) or 7 TWh for all Norwegian residential electricity customers, assuming an 80% in-home display usage rate.
The savings could be increased substantially if heating automation were included in the equation. Automation is left out of the estimates to make it more realistic in the short term. Extensive research indicates that the addition of automation could double the savings realized through feedback alone.
Why should Norway save energy?
Norway has the highest per capita and typical household electricity consumption in Europe.
Almost all residential heating is electric. While Norwegian electricity consumers pay relatively low prices for their electricity (the lowest in Europe) and are among the wealthiest in Europe, the electricity bill as a share of disposable income is nevertheless significant (at 5% the third highest in Europe).
For customers who want to save money on their energy bill in Norway, there are three options, either switching retailer, changing tariff or lowering their consumption. The large majority of households have still not switched after many years of competition, and supplier margins typically do not allow large savings through changing contracts. Thus, energy consumption reduction presents Norwegian consumers with an important opportunity to save on their electricity costs.
The study suggests that in-home displays should be the main base tool for the early stages of feedback, to engage large proportions of consumers and whole households. They can also serve as a useful ongoing household reference point for energy efficiency, demand response and other services. [Engerati-In-Home Displays to Save Dutch Customers 9%]
Web portals would provide supporting feedback for consumers who want to go deeper into the analysis and learn more about what they can do to save energy. Mobile apps would provide personalized feedback direct to the consumer, anywhere, any time.
Ultimately, however, the choice of mix of feedback channels would be based on the service provider’s budget and strategies.
The study also indicates that if the programme is designed with the longer term in mind, consumers can be kept engaged for at least three years. For long-term success, the consumer needs to be taken through a journey. The journey should be a continuous one, of steady enlightenment, behavioural change and habit development and overall growth of the consumer.
The study was based on 91 relevant samples from energy consumption feedback programmes around Europe and elsewhere. A detailed estimate of the true benefit from such feedback would require a comprehensive pilot study involving the implementation of a major feedback programme in Norway.