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.
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.
A week ago, I knew nothing about the utility industry. But several of our members provided me with some valuable insights, so I find it only fair that I share some of my own. I spent two years as a contact center agent who would frequently get frustrated with customers calling in to the center. In fact, all of us agents had “*&%@!” moments with customers. But when we saw how destructive the behavior was, we set out to change it. We started talking positively about our customers, and they soon started talking positively about us.
The first time I became aware of my local energy provider was after Hurricane Jeanne in 2004. On our 11th day without power, I asked my parents who was in charge of turning the electricity back on in our neighborhood. It took a natural disaster for me to learn about my utility. Today, an increasing number of children are learning about energy and their utility through school education programs. These initiatives educate students and parents about energy-saving practices, they can be used to promote a utility’s brand and residential incentive programs, and they can help encourage conservation behaviors at home.
The venue for the 2015 Super Bowl will be lit by LEDs—which will not only cut the facility’s energy and maintenance costs but will also minimize the chances of a long blackout like the one that befell the game in 2013.
Although some utilities have been working in the demand-response (DR) space for many years, others have only recently jumped in. No matter where you are on the DR experience spectrum, all utilities are feeling the impact of market drivers that are enabling an increase in engaged consumers, a blurring of the lines between energy efficiency and DR, and a change in the focus of DR programs from the traditional peak-shaving model to real-time load balancing.