Energy Intelligence Is Essential to Smarter Energy Use

Feb. 22, 2016
Exactly what kind of energy system might a dog lover living in a house built in the 1990s be likely to install? Tendril’s Chris Black explains how energy intelligence opens the door for deep insight into people and how they live.

Exactly what kind of energy system might a dog lover living in a house built in the 1990s be likely to install? Tendril’s Chris Black explains how energy intelligence opens the door for deep insight into people and how they live.

We citizens of the world must change the way we consume energy. Both the recent climate change agreement in Paris along with President Obama’s last State of the Union address support the need for action. Undoubtedly, clean energy’s day has come, and we must use it in all of its forms – from renewables, to aggressive energy efficiency programs, to connected homes that automate environmentally conscious power usage.

The Paris talks helped frame the world’s big energy goals, and from these goals will come more localized regulations that providers will have to meet. Couple these regulations with increased consumer demand for individualized products and services, and providers suddenly have to facilitate rapid, tangible change. But what exactly does this look like? Where do they start? The key to igniting this change is Energy Intelligence (EI).

What Is EI?

Data and analytics are the beating heart of EI. They have revolutionized the customer experience in other industries (travel, retail) and they’re primed to change everything about the way energy providers interact with their consumers as well. EI extends energy providers’ knowledge of people and the premises in which they live by aggregating hundreds of data points (more on those below) and applying the principles of behavioral science, data science, energy analytics, and physical science to generate individualized energy use profiles for every potential or existing customer. For example, owners of homes built in the 1990s with more than five years of residence and an enthusiasm for dogs may be more likely to install solar. By having this level of insight, energy providers can more effectively target and message solar offers, and thus double response rates and drive down the cost of customer acquisition.

Highly personalized energy services become possible when providers consider a multitude of criteria in their analysis, including billing histories, meter reads (if available), home structure, home type, heating and cooling configuration, home thermodynamics, local weather patterns, behavior within the home, preferred comfort settings, solar generation, and any other ways in which residents use energy or engage with energy products and services. Considering all of these data points gives nuanced, accurate profiles of consumers that include details on marketing preferences, optimal comfort settings, run times for major appliances, and the existence of solar panels or electric vehicles. From these personal profiles, energy providers can determine the best communication channels, messages, and content to boost customer participation and sustain long-term engagement.

Why Does EI Matter?

Armed with these EI-driven insights, energy providers can anticipate customer needs. Where applicable, they can offer new opportunities for energy efficiency products and services as well as access to renewables from which customers can choose the elements that best meet their needs.

EI will also inform the partnerships energy providers ideally need to form in order to become bundled service providers. Through partnerships, energy providers can offer the right thermostats, smart meters, solar panels, storage solutions, car chargers—whatever customers demand—and make them available when customers need them. The process operates similarly to the recently announced partnership between the security company ADT and Nest: ADT partnered with Nest to add value to its app, through which customers manage their lights and locks. Now, they can manage their home temperature in the same place. Energy providers that build these types of partnerships and reach beyond their current in-house offerings will find themselves at the forefront of the new energy market.

EI for a Smart Energy Future

Using customizable big data analytics in near real-time allows energy providers to develop truly comprehensive approaches to achieving a low-carbon environment. With EI, energy providers can and will be the leaders of this clean energy charge, the on-the-ground actors empowering consumers to realize their big energy goals. We need these leaders now, as we continue to count the hottest years on record and seek to secure ourselves from damage from escalating severe weather. EI is the key to a smarter, more connected electrical grid that will power us past climate change and into a new energy-wise era. When energy providers invest in EI technology, they invest in the future … both their own and everyone else’s.

Chris Black is the chief operating officer and chief technology officer of Tendril.

About the Author

Kevin Normandeau | Publisher

Kevin is a veteran of the publishing industry having worked for brands like PC World, AOL, Network World, Data Center Knowledge and other business to business sites. He focuses on industry trends in the energy efficiency industry.