Posts for category "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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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?

1 million homes_edit

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Research spotlight: how a little science can squeeze more value out of your DSM budget

  • By Matt Brooks
  • July 13, 2015

Utilities worldwide are working hard to meet increasingly ambitious demand-side management goals. But this year, a lot of them are coming up against a hard truth: the dollars they spend on energy efficiency programs just don’t go as far as they used to.

We’ve heard that anecdotally from our clients, but the proof is in the numbers. E Source found that the cost to acquire 1 kWh of savings rose 35 percent between 2010 and 2014. Efficiency budgets stayed relatively flat over the same period, according to the Edison Foundation.

E Source chart_600

That’s one reason why our behavioral design experts are looking for new, cost-effective ways to motivate utility customers to save more energy at home.

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About Our Thinking

Our Thinking is just that: it’s the place to find out what’s going on right now in the Opower universe. We discuss current perspectives, opinions, ideas, achievements, and events in the burgeoning fields of energy information, data analytics, and utility customer engagement.