Our Thinking

Nearly 100 utilities have invested in Opower’s tech. Now they’ve unlocked $1 billion in savings for their customers.

FeatureImage_WhiteBar-01 Outlier

9% of solar homes are doing something utilities love. Will others follow?

iPhone 5 feature image Outlier

How much does it cost to charge an iPhone 6? A remarkably slender $0.47 per year

Our Thinking

Welcome to NextWeb — the new way to build utility websites

  • By Hilary Platt
  • July 29, 2015

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In the past 12 months, only 44 percent of the world’s energy consumers interacted with their utilities through a digital channel, according to new research from Accenture.

That’s an anachronism not just in an era of Netflixes and Ubers, but in an era when even traditional companies like banks and insurers are going all-in on online. In 2015, people just flat-out expect their service providers to offer helpful, dependable digital tools. But a lot of utility websites aren’t there yet — which leads the majority of customers to stick with expensive, analogue channels, like phones and paper mail.

What gets lost in that story is how tough it is to redesign a utility website.

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Our Thinking

Energy efficiency portfolios are due for an upgrade. This software pushed peak savings to 6.3%.

  • By Nick Payton
  • July 23, 2015

Ten years ago, most utilities’ energy efficiency portfolios were strictly focused on upgrading hardware. Insulation. Refrigerators. Light bulbs. Efficiency was all about getting people to install another widget.

Then behavioral programs added a new dimension to utilities’ efficiency portfolios. For our clients alone, behavioral efficiency has unlocked 8 terawatt-hours in savings since 2007.

But there’s always room to do more. And for a long time, there’s been a lingering question in the utility community: could behavioral efficiency programs pull double duty, and take a bite out of peak demand?

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Our Thinking

Weatherization programs reach less than 3% of eligible homes. Here’s how to reach the other 97%.

  • By Heather Roth
  • July 22, 2015

Weatherization — the practice of implementing energy efficiency measures, particularly around seasonal weather changes — is the heart of almost every utility’s low-income portfolio.

There’s a good reason why. Low-income customers tend to live in older, less efficient homes, and their energy burden is 4.6x greater on average than non-low-income families’. Weatherization is an important way that utilities can engage working families and help them lower their bills.

The problem is that for a lot of low-income customers, it can be hard to juggle enrolling and participating in weatherization with their other priorities. And it shows up in the numbers. Between 2009 and 2012, the Federal Weatherization Assistance Project reached an impressive 1 million homes in the U.S. Yet that was less than 3 percent of the homes that were eligible for weatherization in 2014.

How can program managers and other leaders start reaching the other 97 percent?

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