Innovative ideas for every utility

Email HERs create digital savings and drive smart device adoption

Ale Ferrara
Opower Energy Efficiency Product Manager

Email home energy reports (HERs) are, of course, more affordable to send than paper reports, but that’s just the first strata in a series of layered benefits that email HERs offer.

At Opower, we use them to create more opportunities to influence utility customer behavior than we ever could with just paper. When the Opower platform sends customers both email and paper HERs, the combination creates a jump in savings rates.

The data supporting that statement comes from an experiment the Opower team ran across three different utilities (for 13, 16, and 12 months, respectively). In these three programs, paper reports alone helped customers save about 1.2-1.3% more energy than customers who got no reports at all. Customers who also got email reports saved 0.4-0.5% more energy than customers who just received paper reports.

A new digital experience delivered new energy savings.

Here’s the best part: we expect these results to grow with the latest iteration of email HERs. This experiment relied on email HERs from a few years ago that were pretty simple. In the years since, we’ve made email HERs much more dynamic with a ton of data-driven insights that disaggregate end use, highlight daily usage, track personal usage against months and years past, deliver native advertisements, and even gamify the experience for chronically high users. We’re excited to test and measure just how much incremental savings and customer satisfaction we can deliver with the Opower platform’s latest iteration of email HERs.

New digital energy savings isn’t our only finding from experimenting with email HERs, however. We’ve also learned that email HERs including native advertisements can lead surprising numbers of customers to take next best actions (such as adopting smart devices).

In Con Edison’s Connected Homes REV demonstration project, the Opower platform delivered specialized email HERs to help Con Edison drive smart thermostat sales. Within the email reports, Opower rendered personalized, disaggregation-based advertisements for smart thermostats available on the ConEd marketplace. Each one of these ads was designed to look like just another personalized insight within the email Home Energy Report. Here’s what we found: those email HERs drove a 61% increase in customers purchasing thermostats from ConEd.

As part of this REV demo project, ConEd set up an online marketplace and just blanketed New York City with advertisements: geo-targeted digital ads, painted buses; the ConEd marketplace was everywhere. ConEd’s advertising created a ton of marketplace sales, and that success puts the singular effect of email HERs into focus. To deliver that 61% increase in customer purchases, Opower email HERs broke through all the traditional and digital advertising Con Edison delivered to everyone in the city, recipients and controls alike.

All kinds of New Yorkers bought thermostats from ConEd, but the ones who received email HERs bought them at a surprisingly higher rate than everyone else—just one example of what’s possible with a deeply personal, digital utility customer experience.


Read the rest of the posts in this blog series:


Editor’s notes: (1.) Lead art features the author and the Opower mascot Pluggie. (2.) In 2016, Opower joined Oracle Utilities. Learn more here.


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