When it comes to decarbonization and beneficial electrification, the surging electric vehicle wave has received most of the attention.
But reducing building emissions is an equally and increasingly critical part of the solution. In fact, energy use by homes and buildings contributes approximately 27 percent of global CO2 emissions – much of which stems from heating and cooling.
Without question, home and building decarbonization is foundational to achieving emissions goals. Not only is it a critical element of the carbon reduction equation, but the gas price and political volatility of 2022 has also elevated home and building electrification to a matter of global security and economic stability.
Many European countries are pivoting away from Russian energy imports and seeking non-fossil-fuel-powered cooling and space and water heating alternatives. In the United States, President Joe Biden authorized using the Defense Production Act to ramp up heat pump production in the U.S. saying that over-reliance on fossil fuels leaves the United States and its allies vulnerable to threats and price shocks. Further, the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act includes 10 years of tax credits and other incentives designed to make clean energy technology more accessible, including reducing the cost of heat pumps and electric water heaters.
But even as world leaders and energy providers increasingly prioritize home and building electrification, the majority of consumers aren’t yet on board.
The first barrier is that heat pump technology is not well understood — especially in terms of its viability for a wider-range of customers. Second, there is little consumer appetite to replace working HVAC or water heaters until their existing fossil fuel systems reach their end of life.
Globally, energy providers are in various stages of developing, getting approval and enacting beneficial electrification plans. Their progress is heavily influenced by customer expectations, fluctuating regulations, and their roll out of AMI infrastructure, meter data management systems (MDMS), generation management systems (GMS), demand response management systems (DRMS) and other technologies that facilitate beneficial electrification progress.
But no matter where they are in the process, there is a common understanding that customer engagement is perhaps the most important lever to achieving their goals. Engagement in the form of data-driven personalization, alignment and motivation is what it takes to inspire consumers to take action.
Personalize: Understand and Engage Customers Individually
Leveraging Bidgely’s patented disaggregation technology, utilities can look behind the meter to each household’s appliance-level energy use. Bidgely’s Analytics Workbench business intelligence platform delivers energy intelligence that enables utilities to rapidly run queries on appliance ownership, time of usage and appliance efficiency; and filter those queries by date range, appliance type, rate class, geography, premise type and customer communication preferences.
Not only does this hyper-targeting make customer engagement by location, appliance ownership or time of usage possible, but also by type of observed behavior — such as higher-than-average cooling, heating or hot water usage.
For example, when it comes to determining which homes should be targeted for heat pump programs, understanding which homes have electric heating and which homes have gas or oil-based heating is an essential first step. Similarly, it’s important to understand whether a household is currently operating window, mini-split, portable or central air conditioning. Then, since appliances often start consuming more energy as they approach end of life due to degradation, utilities can also run queries to identify changes in the duty cycle curve or other cycling patterns to identify inefficiencies and optimal targets for replacement programs.
Align: Offer Relevant, High-Value Insights and Programs
Utilities can leverage appliance-level energy use insights to personalize both digital and paper communications in support of home electrification goals.
At a foundational level, personalized outreach could include sending individualized monthly energy reports that show customers how their actual energy usage -– itemized by time and appliance -– is impacting their monthly utility bill.
Customer-facing web portals can also be enhanced to deliver insights about how a customer’s heat systems are impacting their energy costs and provide dynamic appliance-based similar home comparisons or calculate potential savings (CO2 and/or $) they could garner by switching to a more efficient appliance. When taking over incumbent programs, our utility partners often share that they have previously received customer complaints regarding inaccurate comparisons (different size homes, homes with different appliances, etc). Bidgely reverses this trend using a dynamic machine-learning based approach which results in comparing customers to more appropriate similar homes. Bidgely SHC algorithms dynamically recluster homes as heating fuel type or appliances change. This approach makes it possible for energy providers to realize simultaneous gains in CSAT and energy savings.
Energy providers can then layer on one-to-one outbound education and marketing outreach that highlights the most individually relevant benefits of heat pumps. Promotions can also include customized purchasing recommendations, such as those for rebates and installation professionals. And for inbound channels, Bidgely’s electrification insights turn call center agents into energy advisors who are better equipped to provide relevant information and recommendations when customers reach out with concerns about energy costs or questions about promotions they may have received.
The accuracy of our data science ensures that the insights and messaging customers receive are correct. Demonstrating a clear, measurable, short-term and easily attainable personalized appliance ROI is one of the most effective ways to accelerate beneficial electrification.
Motivate: Inspire Customers to Take Action by Aligning With Their Needs and Values
Presenting the right information to the right people is only half the equation. The other half is motivating them to take action, which happens by connecting with the needs and goals that matter to them the most.
Making the decision to electrify appliances is driven by a variety of personal factors, including economic and environmental motivations, and more. Energy providers can more successfully capture customers’ attention and prompt action using personalized marketing that aligns with each customer’s needs, unique circumstances, and values.
Customers who are motivated by sustainability, energy efficiency, savings, and comfort should all be messaged differently. An environmentally conscious customer will find carbon reduction impacts most compelling, while a savings-minded customer is likely to respond best to messages about incentives available to mitigate the costs associated with converting. Further, customers who have already embraced solar and/or electric vehicles are likely to be interested in how switching to a heat pump will further beneficially electrify their life.
Bidgely’s analytics reveal customer lifestyle and value insights that provide utilities with the essential context to authentically connect with their customers with messages that resonate.
It’s important to note that utilities can also leverage customer energy use insights to drive other beneficial electrification measures that align with their own needs and goals, whether those are driven internally, or externally through variables like new regulatory requirements, investor relations or public expectations.
Boost Your Building Electrification Outcomes
Data science empowers utilities to Personalize, Align and Motivate, thereby achieving home and building beneficial electrification goals on or ahead of schedule. Learn more about how AI can amplify your home and building electrification initiatives with our Heat Pump Adoption and Beneficial Electrification Playbook.