How AI is Making Digital Dwelling Power Audits a Actuality
One of the most dramatic lifestyles and business outcomes of the pandemic has been the acceleration of digitization and online engagement. Tasks and interactions that used to be mostly personal have gone online, and digital and virtual lifestyles are normalizing. For utilities and energy retailers, this development has created the need to develop a more robust approach to many Demand Side Management (DSM) programs.
Traditional DSM programs, which rely heavily on in-person visits and installations by contractors, have carried the brunt of the social distancing guidelines, and it is unclear how much time it will take for people to become familiar with service providers enter their home. These breaks in DSM programs will be a huge problem for utility companies for the foreseeable future, especially for home energy assessments, single-speed pool pump replacement, and AC tuning programs. The backlog of canceled in-home audits, combined with an increase in energy consumption in residential areas, significantly increases the likelihood that DSM savings (Figure 1) will not achieve the mandatory energy efficiency savings targets in 2020.
1. For a large utility company in the Midwest, energy savings in April 2020 decreased by almost 45% compared to April 2019. Source: Bidgely
In response, many advanced utility companies are turning to artificial intelligence (AI) and digital diversity to virtually maintain customer loyalty, replenish energy savings for the year, and increase resilience to further grid disruptions.
Get smart meter data up and running
By applying AI techniques to smart meter data, forward-thinking utility companies have better insight into load patterns at the device level, which enables them to better understand the energy consumption of individual households. Equipped with targeted intelligence to personalize customer interactions, utilities can not only solve and answer diagnostic questions, but also offer customers valuable cost savings through digital engagement.
2. AI solutions disaggregate energy consumption by device in order to identify the energy consumption sources in households. Source: Bidgely
Take energy ratings home with you as an example. Traditionally, home evaluations have required lengthy customer surveys and home visits by a care representative. By using AI, get detailed insights into the time and duration of specific device usage, such as B. HVAC systems, EV chargers, water heaters and refrigerators, energy consumption (Figure 8), without entering a customer’s house and without extensive surveys – which ensures more security and a better overall customer experience. Third-party energy advisors can then effectively guide customers through the assessment and confirm the analysis either by phone call or video conference. Based on the analysis, utilities can recommend specific discounts or upgrades to increase the customer’s energy savings.
Virtual audits not only eliminate the need for on-site visits, they also speed up the process and require less time to complete and confirm details. These programs are quick to implement and provide digital resources to achieve measurable energy savings.
Personalized behavioral alignment
Once a utility company has the ability to consistently access detailed household energy usage data, it can segment customers more accurately to target highly and inefficient device users for Demand Response (DR) registration or market promotion.
Abhay Gupta by Bidgely
For example, customers with high HVAC consumption can specifically optimize their cooling hours, as well as get quick tips like adding door and window moldings and promotions for programs to optimize air conditioning. Do-it-yourselfers / tech-savvy customers who would benefit most from intelligent thermostats and would be interested in them can also bring specific DR programs for their own thermostats. This also includes identifying low-income households and consumers with lower base load consumption, the two groups most affected by pandemic-induced economic downturns, and combining them with meaningful, personally relevant tips and recommendations for managing their energy costs.
Knowing that the recent economic downturn has diminished customers’ purchasing power for costly retrofit investments like installing solar panels or upgrading an air conditioner, utilities can take this opportunity to reduce transaction-based conversations and focus on behavioral changes that encourage energy Savings. Personalized home energy reports emailed detailing device usage and monthly billing breakdowns allow customers to change their energy bills immediately without waiting two or three years – the usual time to get back on their investment for retrofitting.
Every interaction builds customer trust and satisfaction while ensuring that they stay virtually connected to the resources they need.
Digital diversity supports resilience
While social distancing may not be a long-term reality, a major turning point for utility companies has been to accelerate the adoption of digital solutions that bolster DSM programs and diversify offerings. Improved customer insights enabled by applied AI technologies lower the barrier for utilities to interact with customers more frequently and in a more value-oriented manner. With digital distribution, primarily through email and online dashboards, utilities can provide virtual engagement and service delivery at little or no additional cost for further energy efficiency savings.
As the energy industry adapts to a dynamic landscape where customers expect and prefer personalized digital engagement, utilities now have the resources to streamline operations in order not only to meet those expectations, but also to support more effective energy saving strategies.
– –Abhay Gupta is CEO of Bidgely, a company he founded with the goal of using data to transform the utility industry. As CEO, Abhay led the company from concept to market leadership. Prior to Bidgely, Abhay worked at a combination of energy and technology companies such as Grid Net, Echelon and Sun Microsystems. He holds a B. Tech from the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, an MS from the University of Southern California and an MBA from Santa Clara University.