Many Americans may not think much about their relationship with their energy provider, beyond paying the monthly utility bills, but times are changing. With the emergence of smart meters, consumers are gaining quite a bit of insight and control into their energy usage, and companies like Ecova are trying to take it to the next level.
Partnering with Aclara, which develops a two-way communications device that uses existing power lines to communicate with gas, water, and electric customers, the two companies recently created the Home Energy Plan which gives end users insight into their energy use and facilitates an in-person and ongoing dialogue on how to save both money and energy.
Similar to other home energy management tools, the Home Energy Plan generates a home energy report called My Energy Insights which shows how much energy the household uses and gives personalized tips on how to make their home more energy efficient. While this is something most others offer, Ecova says it offers something different that helps it stand out from its competition: in-home energy education.
If the customer wants to know more, they can opt-in to an in-home consultation where a representative visits the home to review the report with them, and conducts an on-site energy assessment to capture any information that the computer cannot see from just the pure data.
By inputting that extra information into the system, Ecova can give tailored recommendations for products or efficiency measures, and the customer can get more accurate data in their home energy monitoring online reports.
By taking that extra step, Ecova hopes to create an ongoing and direct relationship with their customer as technologies and insights evolve. Ecova’s president of its utility division, Jon Thomsen, believes that “this program is a step towards a future where utilities and consumers engage in an ongoing dialogue to reduce energy use—and it is being implemented right now.”