There are a lot of different approaches to energy conservation being put into play right now, from smart grid thermostat devices with the power to automatically regulate home energy usage to opt-in programs that simply supply homeowners with more detailed information about their utility bill. Can the latter “smart user” scenario produce real cost savings, across a wide range of climates and demographic segments, including political affiliations? A news release from OPOWER says, ‘yes.’
Recently, the company and its Minnesota-based subscriber utility, Connexus Energy announced the first full-year results of their joint residential energy efficiency program. This program features OPOWER’s Home Energy Reports, which combine “patent-pending data analytics that evaluate customers’ energy usage patterns with cutting-edge behavioral science techniques proven to motivate action.” According to Power System Engineering, Inc., an independent analysis firm, the program delivered a 2.1 percent reduction in electrical energy consumption for Connexus’ customers and close to $1 million in annual savings. These independently measured and verified results are consistent with existing OPOWER deployments in other states.
In contrast to some of the company’s initial deployments, the Connexus program was run in a largely conservative district, which shows that the success of such programs is not reliant on customers having an “ecological” mindset about energy conservation. This may help to explain why more than 35 utilities across the country have signed on in implementing the OPOWER approach to scaling residential energy efficiency as a means to helping them meet state efficiency mandates. The OPOWER Home Energy Report allows customers to see how their electricity usage compares to similarly-sized homes in their neighborhood while providing household-tailored, personalized suggestions on how to save energy and money
“We’re delighted that the program has helped Connexus meet its conservation targets and deliver meaningful energy savings to its customers,” said OPOWER President, Alex Laskey, in a statement. “It’s also gratifying to see this program work so consistently across all areas of the country and all walks of life, from low to high income customers, conservatives and liberals, and the young and old. It shows that energy efficiency is of interest to everyone – they just need the right tools and information to improve.”