E Source Blog
Welcome to the E Source Blog! Our staff will share insights and observations about life at E Source, our events, our research, and other fun stuff.
It’s been exactly one month since we installed the Nest learning thermostat and let it start bossing us around. Has it been all sunshine and happiness, or am I ready to go crawling back to my old programmable thermostat? Let me just say that the only way the Nest will be coming off my wall is in a box—a moving box, that is. If we ever decide to move, I'm taking this baby with me!
Many utilities and other organizations are diligently and feverishly redesigning their websites, streamlining their interactive voice response systems, sending employees to soft-skills training, and mapping customer journeys—all in the name of customer experience (CX). Unfortunately, this disconnected activity is unlikely to actually move the needle on CX when it isn’t tied to a comprehensive strategy.
To most companies, I’m a twentysomething married guy with a college degree, a steady income, and an 80304 ZIP code. But so is my neighbor. Demographic data alone isn’t enough to inform decisions about customer needs. But a healthy set of customer personas could help. Not sure what a persona is or how to go about creating and using one? Read on to find out.
Market-based energy-efficiency programs are not an answer to getting at all sectors and subsectors of energy efficiency. We need to get smarter and more targeted in how we use energy-efficiency funding to ensure that we are reaching end users who truly will not move without utility intervention. And we need to strategize on how energy efficiency can continue to be utilities’ first resource when they’re trying to meet factors such as load growth and customer satisfaction targets.
Two of the most prolific smart thermostats on the market, the Nest and the Honeywell Lyric harbor a deep, dark secret. Every so often, these devices will turn on a home’s heating or cooling system for no other reason than to feed off the power signal used to control it. Known as “power stealing,” this gluttonous behavior presents a baffling problem for homeowners. The good news is that there’s a straightforward remedy to these thermostatic woes.
When Elon Musk, Tesla’s CEO, announced his company’s plans to come out with a battery for the home market, many journalists predicted a disruption in the electric utility industry. On closer inspection, it seems that the battery is more intended to keep the company itself from being disrupted. The problem Musk faces is that most of us don’t have large battery banks in our homes because batteries are expensive, and the benefits they offer are small. Over the past century and a half, numerous companies have attempted to produce greatly improved batteries, but few have succeeded at more than eking out small incremental improvements. Musk will have to prevail where many others have failed.
Small and midsize businesses (SMBs) make up around 80 percent of a utility’s commercial customer base, representing significant opportunities for cost-effective energy savings. Despite their numbers, SMB customers have proved to be some of the hardest to engage in utility energy-efficiency programs. An “if you build it, they will come” approach won’t work with these hard-to-crack customers; it’s going to take a well-developed recipe of marketing strategies to hook your SMB sector.
Our old thermostat just wasn’t up to snuff—it was too darned hard to program. I was ready to cut it out of my life like gum tangled in hair. The way I see it, there are two kinds of programmable thermostats in this world: those that make it easy to save energy and those that make it hard. Would our new Nest be the former or the latter?
We’re all about bringing people together. For years, E Source has served utility customers as well as vendor customers, sometimes acting as a matchmaker to bring the groups together. Now we’ve launched E Source Energy Vendor IQ, a vendor directory that helps our member utilities connect with the right partner for their projects and programs. Learn more about the tool now!
Utilities can go head over heels designing and optimizing the customer experience (CX), but without skilled, empathetic, and productive employees, there won’t be anyone to actually deliver that experience. It may sound counterintuitive—and expensive—but a creative employee engagement strategy is equally important as a solid CX strategy. We’ve talked to three utilities that are doing both right.