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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.

March 11, 2013 | Rachel Cooper - Research Manager | 3 comments

My colleague passed along a Greentech Media article about a survey that was conducted to assess residential awareness of the phaseout of incandescent lightbulbs. The article states that 29 percent of US households are no longer using incandescent bulbs in their homes and reports a “slow but steady shift when it comes to consumer attitudes toward lighting” with an uptick in the use of light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Because the survey was conducted on a small scale, with more variability around a given percentage, I was curious about energy-efficient lighting trends when looking through a more comprehensive lens. Given that I love to “play” with data, and I just happen to have one of the most robust datasets on US household energy use available at my fingertips, I immediately began analyzing our data on compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) and LED saturation.

So, what’s the scoop? According to our survey data, the proportion of US households using at least one CFL or LED lightbulb in their homes is on the rise, as is the percentage of households using multiple CFLs and LEDs. In fact, our data show that 87 percent of households are using at least one ...

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Topics: Market research
March 11, 2013 | Alexandra Behringer - Associate Research Director | 0 comments

A number of E Source members have asked us: How do other utilities organize their demand-side management (DSM) departments? Is there an “optimal” structure or an ideal location within a utility? As an E Source researcher, I sought to dig deeper into this issue by interviewing eight DSM department heads in 2009 and six in 2012 about their DSM department organization structures. Respondents represented 1 municipal utility and 11 investor-owned utilities, with departments that ranged in size from 5 to 300 staff members.

In my discussions with these department heads, I found that DSM organization structures differed for several reasons, including:

  • Size of the utility and number of states served
  • Regulatory influence
  • Swift expansion in response to increasing DSM goals
  • Outsourcing of program management or implementation
  • Existence of advanced metering infrastructure
  • Frequent reorganizations

Ultimately, this research led me to conclude that there’s no one “optimal” DSM department structure, which may be welcome news to those of you experiencing frequent reorganizations!

...

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March 4, 2013 | Alexandra Behringer - Associate Research Director | 1 comments

We just wrapped up a big year for change in residential lighting: The US Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) phaseout of general-service incandescent lamps began in 2012, and new lighting technology options like light-emitting diodes (LEDs) became more commonplace in programs.

In the past couple years, we’ve frequently heard utilities voice plans to shift incentives from basic compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) to specialty CFLs (like globes and reflectors). We’ve also expected increasing numbers of utilities and statewide efficiency organizations to offer incentives for LED bulbs at retail stores. To get a better sense of how residential lighting programs are changing, we reviewed the Energy Star Summary of Lighting Programs: September 2012 Update (PDF) as well as other industry resources.

Interestingly, our review of more than 70 residential lighting programs in the Energy Star Summary revealed that lighting programs still provide incentives for a wide variety of lighting product types—only a few programs focus incentives specifically on specialty bulbs and LEDs. And there’s still a lot of opportunity for programs to get ...

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February 15, 2013 | Chad Garrett - Product Manager of E Source Business Market Services | 0 comments

I’ve got two videos you need to watch in those fleeting moments between meetings. These advertisements were produced by BC Hydro’s Team Power Smart in support of its groundbreaking residential and business programs, and they’ll give you a feel for what will happen at the 5th Annual E Source Utility Marketing Conference:

  • Ridiculous Waste at Home and at Work
  • Chickens to Paralyze

I expect two things to happen after you watch these. First (and this is a guarantee), you’ll get odd looks from your co-workers as you try to stifle a belly laugh. And second—I’m making a pretty well-educated guess here—you’ll forward the videos to your boss with a great new idea for using humor and information to market your programs and enhance your brand.

You won’t get odd looks, but you can expect both laughter and ideas at the Utility Marketing Conference (and the jointly held 2nd Annual E Source Utility Customer Experience Conference), which is being held April 3 and 4 in San Diego. If there’s a single thing that has made our conference so successful, it’s the intensity of the group’s ...

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February 1, 2013 | Beth Hartman - Senior Research Associate | 7 comments

Sometimes I wonder: What makes many people so comfortable with using smartphones but so concerned with the health dangers and privacy details of smart meters? Rationally speaking, it seems to me that using a smartphone involves at least as much of a health and privacy risk as having a smart meter installed on the side of your house; the phone can track where you are, who you text, when you make a call, what websites you visit, and more—all while bombarding your head with powerful cellular radio waves. Yet many people who are willing to overlook these concerns with a phone become simultaneously obsessed with fears over smart meters.

I find this logical contradiction fascinating. Clearly, consumer fears about smart meters are not rational, which means that a response relying on facts to address these fears will almost certainly be ineffective. One great example of a logical response that appears unlikely to resolve these consumer fears is the recent 80-page Public Utility Commission of Texas report (PDF) on how “scientific research reveals no definite or proven biological effects from exposure to low-level RF [radio-frequency] signals.” Does anyone actually ...

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Topics: Social media
January 29, 2013 | Adam Maxwell - Product Manager of the E Source Efficiency & Demand-Response Programs Service | 0 comments
Topics: Conservation
January 25, 2013 | Aleana Reeves - Product Manager of the E Source Residential Market Service | 0 comments

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 ...

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January 24, 2013 | Tim Stout - Vice President of Research | 0 comments

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 ...

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January 23, 2013 | Dulcey Simpkins - Research Manager | 0 comments

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 ...

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January 22, 2013 | Mike Weedall - Senior Advisor | 0 comments

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 ...

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Topics: LEDs