Nearly 100 utilities around the world use Opower’s customer engagement platform. It’s the technology that’s helping them revolutionize every part of the customer experience, from the way people use energy to the way they pay their utility bill. The lifeblood of our software platform — the stuff that powers all of those insights and communications — is data, from customer energy behavior and web analytics to weather patterns and thermostat setpoints. At the heart of our multi-dimensional dataset is something that's core to every utility on earth: meter reads. That’s why March 9, 2015, marks a major milestone for Opower and our utility partners.
Opower's technology platform is now analyzing 40 percent of all residential energy data generated in the United States.
As of today, we’ve collected 400 billion meter reads of electric and gas consumption. Our technology platform is now analyzing 40 percent of all residential energy data generated in the United States. And our data warehouse as a whole, which spans four continents, remains one of the largest in the world. As a result, we’re uniquely positioned to identify patterns and trends that no one else can. And we’re using those insights to help utilities have personalized, helpful, one-on-one conversations with millions of their customers worldwide. Here are a few ways we’re putting data to work for our utility partners.
1. Building an effortless, insightful billing process
At best, an energy bill is forgettable. At worst, it’s frustrating and expensive. In any case, it’s a missed opportunity. The fundamental experience of receiving a bill is the same today as it was decades ago — and at a time when consumer expectations have never been higher, utilities are passing up a chance to deliver a higher level of service. That’s about to change. Leading utilities are seizing the opportunity to bring advanced data insights to its oldest customer touchpoint. In partnership with Opower, Puget Sound Energy in Washington state will use predictive analytics to automatically alert families when they’re on track for a high bill, and highlight ways to keep costs down. And when the bill arrives, PSE will use algorithms to show customers where their money went — from appliances to air conditioning.
2. Bringing the call center into the 21st century
The same data and technology can empower representatives at the utility call center. By equipping them with deep insights into how homes and businesses use energy, representatives can be more helpful, resolve issues faster, and leave customers feeling glad they called.
3. Treating customers like the individuals they are
Last year, we deployed machine learning techniques to uncover new, hidden patterns in the way people use energy. From 812,000 individual energy profiles, five totally distinct types of consumers emerged — from people whose power consumption peaks at 10:00am, to night owls who use the most energy long after dark.
After decades of segmenting people by who they are, utilities can finally start segmenting customers by how they actually behave. Chris Mooney explained why that matters in a recent profile for the Washington Post. “Data like these aren’t just a cool curiosity — they have big relevance for utility companies and for their customers. Why? Because depending on your energy personality, there are likely to be very different ways and strategies for you to save money and reduce your energy use.”
4. Cutting peak demand — without special prices or devices
Traditional demand response programs rely on expensive hardware to reduce peak demand, and typically reach a tiny fraction of a utility’s service territory. Data and analytics offer a new approach. Last summer, utilities from California and Michigan to Maryland and Vermont delivered personalized, real-time energy savings advice to more than 1 million customers on the hottest days of the year. Peak demand dropped by as much as 5 percent, and people felt great taking control of their energy use when it really mattered.
5. Helping people save the planet and a bundle on their bills
More than 95 utilities worldwide have deployed our software to help their customers make smarter energy decisions — not just during peak events, but all year round. They’ve seen incredible success. To date, our partners have reduced their customers’ bills by more than $700 million, and unlocked 6 terawatt-hours in energy savings. That’s enough to power all the homes in Alaska and Hawaii for a full year. From a climate perspective, it’s like taking nearly 900,000 cars off the road. That’s the impact 400 billion meter reads can make — and we’re adding 100 billion more every year.
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