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.
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.
Ask nearly any employee in nearly any organization for a list of things to improve at their company, and communication is bound to make the top 10. It seems that no matter how much an organization focuses on communicating with its employees, we still don’t feel like we’re getting enough communication. This is as true at hip, edgy companies with Ping-Pong tables in their breakrooms and kegerators in their lobbies as it is at conventional utility companies. More often than not, the solution isn’t more communication; it’s more-effective communication.
My dad has a Fitbit. He uses the app, uploads his data, and watches his step count. He’s lost 15 pounds. A compelling smart meter portal can have the same effect. By allowing users to interact with and track their usage data, smart meter portals can help customers change their energy behavior and reduce consumption—the enery equivalent of losing 15 pounds.
For many (hopefully most) utility customers, the bill is the singular point of contact between the individual and the utility. Ignore it, and you’ll be left in the dark. But for all its importance, the bill is practically indecipherable by customers. Many utilities are rethinking the design of their bills and asking themselves, “How can we redesign the bill for a truly great customer experience?”
Each year, the tech team at E Source chooses the biggest technology developments of the past 12 months. Our recent report details the top 22 technologies, but here we list our top 5 picks, which include huge leaps forward in LED lighting, home automation technologies, laundry, water heating, and more.
Social media is a hot topic for businesses. It’s a fast-paced environment that’s quickly becoming more accessible to a wider range of customers. In 2014, we conducted a survey of 57 utility companies, asking them about their social media goals, policies, staffing, budgets, and metrics, as well as which channels they’re using for which audiences. We also asked utility respondents which of their fellow energy providers they perceived to be doing an extraordinary job with social media. Here are their top 10!
In the digital communications age, you can get a notification for just about anything—and everything. A preference center can help utility customers ensure that they’re getting the alerts that are important to them. It can also improve enrollment in utility communications, inform utilities about customer needs, and divert calls to the contact center. A recent E Source report describes how to implement a preference center that delivers value for the utility and meets customer expectations.
Interest in home automation—of which home energy management (HEM) is a subset focused on energy use—is nothing new. Science fiction writers started describing this kind of functionality in the 1920s (shortly after the advent of electric appliances), and futuristic demonstrations of how automated electrified homes might make life easier for residents were included in multiple World’s Fairs starting in the 1930s. A variety of factors—including technological limitations, high first costs, lack of a standardized communication protocol, and dubious benefits for users—all conspired to keep home automation from achieving widespread market penetration in the decades to follow. However, after nearly a century of interest, HEM finally seems poised to hit the mainstream.