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.
My first week on the job at E Source three years ago, I attended our Let’s Get Social: Utility Marketing Conference in Denver. The lively and thought-provoking agenda centered around the topics of behavior-change social marketing efforts at utilities. I remember sitting in the audience and engaging in conversation with a number of attendees around this new concept of direct/indirect feedback, competitions, challenges, and pledges to reduce residential energy consumption—and whether it would actually work. We agreed that it was effective for public health efforts like anti-tobacco campaigns, but the jury was still out on whether the energy industry could capitalize on this strategy.
Fast-forward to 2013. Today, one of the hottest trends in efficiency programs centers on behavior-change social marketing efforts. I’m left to wonder: Did the momentum for this tactic begin at our Utility Marketing Conference in 2010?
One of E Source’s raisons d’être is to facilitate knowledge-sharing and networking among utility program managers and marketers so they can brainstorm ideas on the best ways to engage customers to help them ...
At the E Source Forum back in October 2012, I attended two sessions on electric vehicles and came away feeling that my days of commuting in a gasoline-only vehicle had to come to an end. The very next weekend, my wife and I visited the local Chevy dealership to check out the Volt. Although the salesman could have used some more training, as soon as I got behind the wheel for a test drive, I knew that this was the car for me. At that time, the lower-than-anticipated consumer demand for the Volt enabled me to negotiate a great deal on my lease. Just a few hours later, I had a shiny new Chevy Volt parked in my garage. I’ve been commuting in the Volt for three months now, and I don’t think I’ll ever look back.
My first experience owning an electrified car was a Honda Accord Hybrid that I purchased in 2005. Not being a car fanatic, I didn’t realize that the hybrid Accord was really a muscle car with hybrid technology included for a minor efficiency boost to the large 250-horsepower engine, achieving roughly the same gas mileage as the non-hybrid version of the Accord. Other than getting disappointing mileage at about 32 miles per gallon (low for ...
So many people across a broad swath of the eastern US were affected in some way by Superstorm Sandy—and some of those people lost everything. The alarming and iconic satellite photo of Sandy making landfall on October 30, 2012, came to symbolize the storm’s vast scope of damage. Sitting safely here in our offices in Boulder during early November, we were hearing more news about the unprecedented storm’s fallout, thinking about our seaboard members and their communities, and wondering how we could help. We also wanted to help quickly: With the holidays approaching, people were getting extremely busy and our window of opportunity to get people involved was rapidly closing.
Then, we had a brainstorm! Locally famous bingo caller Stephanie Spalding just happens to work at E Source, so we combined her skills with some event prep, creative prizes, and a generous match of $500 from our executives—all the ingredients needed to rally the E Source team and throw a pay-to-play bingo benefit for Sandy victims.This is what happens when
you call a false BINGO!
For those of you who, like me, are not bingo aficionados, let me give you ...
Last month I attended a workshop on light-emitting diode (LED) streetlighting for municipalities put on by the California Lighting Technology Center and the Bay Area Environmental Council. When I asked one of the organizers which municipalities in Northern California were scoping or pursuing some level of LED streetlighting installation, the response was essentially, “Tell me one that’s not.”
Yes, California tends to be on the leading edge—electricity prices are some of the highest there—and entities such as the California Energy Commission have zero-interest loans available for LED streetlights, but as with other technologies, the ground being plowed in the Golden State will soon be standard for much of the rest of the country. (And it’s important to note that many communities outside of California are stepping out on their own to pursue the LED option.)
The benefits of LED lighting are well known, but let me cite a couple of key drivers that I believe make this a real game-changer in streetlighting:
- First, there’s a 50 percent energy savings over high-pressure sodium lighting. Add controls to the LEDs ...
We all know how much people like to browse Facebook and other social media channels these days (personally, I think my husband finds it borderline ridiculous how obsessed I am with Twitter!). So why not meet people where they’re already spending time to initiate discussions about energy? Utilities that effectively leverage online and mobile applications like games, sweepstakes, and trivia competitions can increase interest in energy efficiency and other programs and achieve dramatic improvements in marketing and customer engagement.
Despite the intrinsically compelling nature of these social applications, however, a “build it and they will come” approach to offering such programs to customers can have disappointing results. Just like any new initiative, these games and sweepstakes should be promoted across a variety of established marketing channels, including e-mail, online advertising, and more.
In addition to promoting the applications on established marketing channels, the games themselves can include functionality that encourages customers to share information about energy programs with their own social networks, creating a viral ...
Weatherstripping a home may not be the most captivating of topics, but I’ve found two new methods to air-seal a home this year that really stuck with me, so to speak. One is pretty basic, using a seemingly mundane material—tape. Not just any tape, but a super sticky tape. The Swedish tape manufacturer SIGA has a line of such tapes designed to stick to and seal just about any seam in a house, whether it’s between two sheets of drywall, between drywall and wood, or around penetrations in the building envelope, including masonry. It has vapor- and non-vapor-permeable options, as well as options for hot surfaces such as those around exhaust flues.
These tapes have been used in Europe for several years to achieve extremely low air-infiltration rates (enough to meet Passivhaus requirements of less than 0.6 air changes per hour at 50 Pascals air pressure (ACH@50 Pa) and are just beginning to make inroads in the United States. The material cost is high at $30 to $120 per roll, but SIGA told me that a two-person crew could tape-seal a typical single-family home in a day. I don’t know if the labor savings compared to that required by traditional sealing methods ...
Jess is someone who will surprise you. Because she works in human resources, she’s amazingly professional and tactful, but she also has a sly sense of humor that comes out of nowhere. Also, when you see her petite frame and mild manner, you’d never guess that she’s an avid rock climber who boulders two to three times a week. Although she’s so busy, she’s one of the driving forces behind the E Source Toastmasters Club and she helps organize an exercise group over the lunch hour!
Hometown: I’m originally from Portsmouth, Ohio, but I lived in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, from middle school through college.
What you do at E Source: I’m a human resources generalist, which means I’m responsible for all aspects of human resources—payroll, benefits, recruiting, etc.
Why you like working at E Source: There are lots of opportunities for training and professional development, the work/life balance is exceptional, my boss is an excellent mentor/teacher, and there’s a fun group of us who do exercise video sessions during lunch!...
As a researcher at E Source, I was recently asked to examine how demand-side management (DSM) programs can be adjusted to better serve residents and business owners impacted by a major natural disaster. Not surprisingly, the impetus for this inquiry was Hurricane Sandy. Though an undeniable tragedy—the superstorm damaged nearly 72,000 homes and businesses in New Jersey alone—disasters like Sandy do open the proverbial “window” on opportunities to rebuild or renovate damaged homes and businesses to be more efficient than their predecessors. Rebuilding efficiently helps households and businesses reap the benefits of energy savings, increased property values, and improved comfort, while advancing the overall goals of a more sustainable community. And utilities that are prepared to adjust or implement DSM programs in the wake of a disaster provide a valuable service above and beyond power restoration.
So I reached out to a few utilities that have experienced local and regional destruction caused by hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods to identify some best practices for energy-efficiency disaster relief. We’ve compiled the following near-term ...
For this year’s E Source Forum, the E Source Green Team designed a transportation challenge for employees traveling to Denver for the event. Because our office is located in Boulder, most E Sourcers live closer to Boulder than Denver. Our inaugural transportation challenge was implemented to reduce the number of miles driven by our employees to attend Forum each day.
Challenge participants were awarded points based on their mode of transportation, and the point-scale was heavily weighted toward public transportation, carpooling, and alternative-fuel vehicles. I’m proud to say that overall the transportation challenge was very successful. We had 36 participants (almost half the company) with the following results:
- 2,067 driven miles avoided
- 1,777 pounds of carbon dioxide avoided (equivalent to planting 25 trees)
- $2,200 in avoided costs for E Source
I can’t begin to express how awesome these results are. For 36 people in five business days to eliminate more than 2,000 miles driven is incredible! We didn’t know what to expect when we came up with this idea, but I know ...