September 22, 2010 – Completion of an energy audit is a proven motivator of consumer behavior change, according to recent analysis by Opinion Dynamics Corporation, a leading national consulting firm specializing in market research and energy-program evaluation. In Pennsylvania, customers participating in PPL Electric Utilities’ online program, which is powered by the Aclara Energy Analysis solution, reduced their energy use up to 4.8 percent annually. This translated to a total reduction in usage of almost 11.6 million kWh in 2008 with some customers saving as much as 748 kW h per year.
The recently completed third-party study looked at the behaviour of customers who participated in the multi-level Aclara energy audit solution offered by PPL EU on its website. The audit is divided into three levels:
- Level one profiles a customer’s heating and cooling system,
- Level two includes an appliance inventory and additional details, and
- Level three takes into account even more specific information about the customer’s home energy usage, including water heating and weatherization.
Opinion Dynamics found PPL EU customers who completed level three of the survey in a single day saved more than those who completed only the first two levels. These consumers reduced their energy use by an average of 2.9 percent annually with savings reaching 4.8 percent at the top end of the range. Those who completed levels one and two reduced energy consumption by about one percent. In Pennsylvania, the state legislature enacted a law in 2008 that requires electric utilities to help their customers reduce electric usage by certain targets by 2011 and 2013.
"There may be a misconception by some about consumer interest in energy efficiency, and that consumers may not care about it," said Tom Stathos, director – customer programs & services at PPL Electric Utilities. "However, the research data that Opinion Dynamics garnered from our customers who used the Aclara Energy Analyzer application proves otherwise.
"With savings of up to 4.8 percent for customers who regularly come back to the application, we have engaged our customers and they are now making informed decisions about saving energy and reducing their consumption," he added. "More than 10 percent of our 1.4 million customers log onto our online Energy Analysis tool regularly."
The multiple-level audit offered by Aclara allows utility customers to probe as deeply as they would like into the audit process in one sitting, returning to a personalized energy center that provides energy-saving recommendations based on the customized information. The Opinion Dynamics’ survey looked at 570,000 records, but reported only on consumers who completed their highest level of audit in a single day to allow for an accurate comparison of savings at each level.
"This research confirms that users of our application are engaged," said Karen Flathers, general manager of Aclara Software. "In addition to the historical data proving energy savings, the data shows that the customer engagement is ongoing. Since the applications provide data in near real-time, consumers are coming back to the energy centers on a regular basis to monitor what has changed and see the analytics as the data changes. Real data with analytics in real time will create smart, engaged consumers who take action that benefits them."
The model used in the study compared customer consumption prior to participating in the energy analysis, looking for decreasing usage after completion of the analysis. It also compared individual to group usage and took into account weather and seasonal factors.