The Energy Consumer of the Future: More Energy Educated, More Engaged
April 12, 2019
Written by Ozzie Godinez, CEO/Co-Founder
Smart technology is making consumers, well, smarter about many things, such as how many miles they’ve walked, the calorie intake of their food, and their energy usage at home.
Technology powered by analytics is enabling consumers to control more of their surroundings in whatever space they occupy — home, work, car, and every space in-between. For utility companies this means confronting a growing consumer base that is more energy literate than previous generations.
This characterization will only grow in future years. After all, by the end of 2016, half of U.S. electricity consumers had smart meters, twice as those from 2010, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). Clearly, users are adopting the new technology; however, whether they know its full potential is up to the right messaging — an opportunity for utility companies as they generate education campaigns that advocate wholesale energy savings.
To take full advantage of this trend requires a wholesale understanding of who these next-generation utility users are. Besides being more energy literate, future energy consumers will lean toward:
Personalized service. For them, being able to control temperature and electricity according to their personal tastes is a sense of freedom.
Integration. They are used to bundled services in their media; as smart technology becomes more accessible via apps, they may want energy control for services in their home, car, and workplace. Artificial Intelligence (AI) will also play a role in determining consumer energy preferences and then catering to them without prompting.
Option diversity. More control means being open to more nontraditional energy options such as solar and microgrids.
Interaction. They will be more open to interactions with their utility provider when seeking new products and services.
Consumer expectations are becoming more fluid, which will compel energy providers to increasingly keep pace with their evolving interests and behaviors. Digitization is making the world more customizable, and the utility industry is no different. Consumers will respond to services and products that allow users to fine-tune temperatures, lighting, and more in exact accordance to their tastes. For example, according to Accenture, the majority of consumers (58%) want personalized advice on actions they can take to save energy and nearly half (45%) want personalized advice on products and services that will do the same.
So while technology enables a certain kind of freedom for consumers, they still are looking for a guiding hand from utility companies to help them navigate the water. Survey findings by Electric Light & Power magazine found four kinds of programs and tools that consumers wish they had from their utility companies. They are:
An online energy rewards program that educates consumers on energy use and rewards them with credits or products/services when they change their behavior.
An online energy manager tool or app designed to help consumers monitor their daily energy use. This app can be tied to relevant offers based on their behavior.
An ecommerce portal where consumers can access information such as reviews or calculators and/or purchase tools that provide energy savings.
An online menu that makes purchasing added options and getting access to expert assistance easier.
Clearly, as consumers get more educated about energy use, they get more engaged with their providers. Giving them the basics will no longer be enough. The future consumer wants a relationship where interaction is a two-way street and information is designed to generate greater energy savings.
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