Hear more from Bill Hughes about the future of Home Energy Management, and learn more about the design philosophy behind Bidgely’s industry-leading HEM solutions.
Recently I was speaking with Bill Hughes, Principal Research Analyst at Guidehouse Insights about the dramatic shift underway from Home Energy Reporting to a new era of Home Energy Management. Unlike “reporting” which presents a snapshot of what is happening in the home, “management” bolsters reporting with concrete action steps customers can take to optimize their personal energy use. The result is a customer population that is inspired and engaged in a collaborative effort with the utility to not only improve energy efficiency, but also advance electrification, renewable energy, decarbonization and all other future-ready utility operations.
“The term Home Energy Report is based upon the original notion of enabling customers to visually see how they’re using power. But it is an older term that doesn’t represent what the future is going to look like,” Hughes suggested. “If you merely provide information and statistics to a homeowner, they’re left to wonder, ‘I spend 10% of my power on lighting. Is that good? Is that bad? I spend 15% of my electricity on cooking, is that high? Is that low? How do I evaluate this information?’”
By contrast, he said, “Home Energy Management helps customers understand their ability to receive power, send power, collaborate with their neighbors and take other action steps in support of all the changes that we’re expecting within the electrical industry.”
The foundation for effective Home Energy Management initiatives are the insights that come from energy use data analytics.
“There are any number of strategic energy management plans that can be built upon home energy use disaggregation. When you are able to identify that one customer does a lot of cooking, while another does a lot of cleaning, and a third does a lot of home entertainment — you’re able to customize your message to be highly relevant to their habits and more likely to inspire them to take the action you’re requesting. We’re going to get increasingly targeted to more narrow programs,” explained Hughes. “There’s going to be a shift where customers will no longer simply be taking in power and calling it good. For example, customers will be sending power from their solar panels or some other distributed energy resource back into the grid. And that’s going to be a very different environment than what we’re used to. Getting to know your individual customers at a deeper level through household energy analytics allows utilities to tailor the message, propose specific actions and improve the outcome — whether the desired outcome is customer satisfaction, decarbonizing or improving energy efficiency.”
Case in Point: Electric Vehicle Adoption
Legacy Home Energy Reporting was based on total home energy consumption and therefore lacked actionable insights. Electric vehicle adoption reveals how that approach falls short in our current evolving energy environment.
When customers buy EVs and charge at home, their whole-home consumption goes up. To utilities looking only at home-level energy use, they suddenly look significantly less efficient. A utility risks reacting to that increased load by penalizing customers in a Home Energy Report communication.
The customer who has bought an EV is most likely feeling positive about making a sustainable choice. Receiving a communication that is instead critical of their purchase erodes trust in the utility. A utility needs to be able to differentiate between a customer who has left a pool pump running versus one who is charging an EV.
Bidgely is partnering with utilities worldwide to inform next generation Home Energy Management programs with data-driven insights that separate EV consumption from the rest of the house. Our EV Solution provides utilities with critical visibility as to when increased load is attributed to an EV purchase. With that information, instead of scolding the customer, they are able to offer congratulations and proactively reward the customer with available incentives, building customer satisfaction and lasting loyalty.
A Recognized HEM Leader
In its 2021 Home Energy Management Providers Leaderboard, Guidehouse Insights ranked Bidgely as one of only three HEM providers to be in the “Leaders” category. “In addition to offering valuable information to homeowners,” Guidehouse said, “these companies are actively enabling utilities to change the way they interact with customers and support the strategic initiatives to transition to more renewable energy.”
The report emphasized the value of Bidgely’s AMI-based HEM solutions to enable utilities to perform “detailed customer segmentation at levels that were inconceivable not long ago.” Guidehouse said “such segmentation enables highly targeted marketing programs to communicate mutually beneficial offerings and programs” including:
- Education on simple ways customers under financial stress can reduce costs
- Recommendations that environmentally-conscious customers can follow to reduce carbon footprints, helping to advance progress toward clean energy targets
- Maintenance issue identification that flags appliances and equipment prior to failure
- Smart home devices available to reduce demand and shift demand to off-peak usage times
- Load shifting suggestions, such as encouraging EV owners to charge vehicles overnight rather than during peak evenings
This data-driven personalized outreach improves customer engagement and demand side management outcomes as a means to help grid operators optimize costs, increase overall service reliability, and encourage desirable usage patterns that use less energy and help the environment.
Check out this on demand video from Engage 2021 to hear more from Bill Hughes about the future of Home Energy Management, and learn more about the design philosophy behind Bidgely’s industry-leading HEM solutions.