Beyond paper: reimagining behavioral demand side management

6 months, 14 days ago

For a company working to protect our environment, we print and mail a lot of paper. Personalized direct mail has been—and still is—the only option for utilities to reach all their customers and help them save energy at scale.

We invented paper Home Energy Reports a decade ago, and for ten years the Opower platform has produced them by the millions, each one to exacting standards.

We love what we’ve accomplished with paper reports, and we believe it’s time to begin moving beyond them. In fact, while other providers still struggle to meet savings goals with paper-based programs, we’ve been quietly reducing paper and ramping up digital interactions for years now. In 2017, for the first time in its history, the Opower platform delivered more personalized, digital DSM communications than pieces of paper, and Opower did that while meeting or exceeding our clients’ savings goals.

We are reimagining how utilities run behavioral demand side management (DSM) programs. Over the past couple years, Oracle Utilities data scientists, along with our friends in academia and the EM&V community have crafted the experiments and thoughtfully assembled the data that show what’s possible with behavioral programs right now.

The bottom line of these experiments: Our utility clients can confidently begin moving beyond paper-based behavioral programs to digital DSM. It’s no longer a hypothesis that a deeply personal, digital utility customer experience can help massive numbers of people save energy.

We’re doing it right now.

Digital DSM interactions powered by email home energy reportsproactive billing alerts, behavioral demand response notifications and online audits add up to a customer experience utilities can use to create and claim new energy savings. And utilities can use that digital customer experience to taper the paper in their behavioral programs: ramp down paper reports over time by replacing paper savings with digital savings.

We’re not telling our clients to stop sending paper tomorrow morning—today paper reports remain our best single instrument for creating savings among otherwise hard-to-reach customers. We’ve learned to play quite a few more instruments, and it’s time to make some music.

But don’t take my word for it. Starting in early January, we’re going to look at some data on this blog. You’ll hear from some data-driven Opower leaders about what we’ve found, what it means for the state of the art of behavioral DSM, and our ambition to continue experimenting and discovering with our clients.

We’re going to see exactly what we’re capable of achieving today and tomorrow by elevating the digital utility customer experience.

Editor’s note: Opower joined Oracle Utilities in 2016. Learn more here.

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