Home energy reports just a month after you move into your new home? Crazy! Counting on more than 10 percent savings from prepayment offerings? No way! National leverage getting big-name retailers to stock more energy-saving products? Impossible!

Not so crazy for the handful of utilities featured in our latest report about innovative residential demand-side management (DSM) programs. We know the stakes are getting higher as DSM goals increase. Check out five unique and innovative strategies from the recently published E Source report DSM Roundup: Innovative Residential Programs.

Prepay for DSM savings. Prepay billing is old news for many utilities, but only a couple have explored how getting frequent feedback and notifications from a prepay billing system can result in behavioral energy savings. For the few that have looked into possible DSM savings, early results have been promising. We’re talking about savings in the range of 5 to 14 percent, though there’s definitely room for improved consistency among evaluation methods. Beyond the early savings numbers, prepay has very consistent customer satisfaction ratings—in fact, the great majority really like it.

Customer segments most interested in prepay offerings

Enervee Marketplace Suite. In traditional rebate programs, only 7 percent of eligible customers actually submit their rebate forms. The Enervee Marketplace Suite makes utility rebate applications easier for consumers by putting all the steps on one simple platform. Customers go to the Marketplace Suite site to start researching purchase options. The application then provides comparative info on energy usage and directs consumers to online or brick-and-mortar shopping locations. At that point, customers just enter their email address and are prompted shortly after with a message guiding them through a simple rebate application formÔall online and requiring just a photo or digital copy of their receipt. The interface can be customized for each utility, making a promising customer platform for easier, more-friendly rebate experiences.

Energy Star Retail Products Platform. It started with Pacific Gas and Electric Co., SMUD, and Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance working to persuade some large retailers to change purchase and stocking decisions based on bulk upstream rebates. Facilitated by the US Environmental Protection Agency, the Retail Products Platform (RPP) initiative is intended to drive more sales of select Energy Star–certified products to customers. This can be a tough sell, as a home electronics store in California, for example, might work with 40 different utility programs and will prioritize only those that can provide enough income to be worth the effort. But the unified ask brought much bigger leverage and created a model worth replicating. Energy Star is now involved with implementing the RPP at a national level. So far, the organization has utility partners that account for 20 percent of all US residents, and it’s aiming to reach 30 percent this year. The benefit to utilities is twofold: Rebates can be smaller when synthesized at a retailer level rather than at an end-user level, and retailers have agreed to share data to provide a much better gauge of market penetration.

Southern California Edison’s Save Power Days. This program offers residential customers rewards for reducing their peak-time energy use. It’s open to all residential customers in an opt-in format, and to SCE’s delight, a sizable number of customers opted in and are liking it. The program resulted in significant savings at its simplest level, and SCE found that pairing the rewards with a smart thermostat resulted in eight to nine times the energy savings!

National Grid Rhode Island’s New Movers Program. In Rhode Island, residents are getting the chance to receive home energy reports just one to two months after they move into a new home. Eighty-four percent of utility customers think moving to a new residence is a key opportunity to change their energy habits. National Grid is taking advantage of that key moment by providing energy-saving tips, connections to other programs, and a basic home energy-use report all within weeks or months of move-in. Reports show monthly household usage and a neighbor comparison based on recent data, since new residents don’t have 12 months of historical data. National Grid reports that about 20 percent of the savings from its statewide home energy report program come from the New Movers program.

Think your program is innovative? Let us know by filling out this entry form! We’ll consider it for a future roundup, a featured spot at the E Source Forum, or inclusion in other reports. Our DSM roundup reports and web conferences happen about every six months and alternate between residential and commercial focus.

Contributing Authors

Senior Research Manager, Customer Energy Solutions

Beth Fitzjarrald combines her physics training and interest in human behavior science to analyze energy-efficiency and demand-response programs and...