Blog > April 2017 (1) > Webinar Recap: Taking Stock of Integrated Demand Response and Energy Efficiency Programs

Webinar Recap: Taking Stock of Integrated Demand Response and Energy Efficiency Programs

4/28/2017 8:38:42 AM | by Jason Cigarran
With thermostats that can measurably impact utility operations selling at retail stores across America, Google Home and Amazon Alexa offering customers futuristic voice control over a smart home, and the competition—and reward—for engaging consumers through their mobile devices ever increasing, it’s an exciting time in integrated demand-side management (IDSM).

For the latest installment in the Comverge webinar series, our Director of Product Management, Jason Brewington, this week joined Stuart Schare, Managing Director, Energy at Navigant, to take stock of these trends, offering utilities useful insights for making the latest market developments work to their advantage.

Jason kicked off the presentation with a powerful statistic: According to a recent study conducted by the Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative, 68% of utility customers in the U.S. are interested in participating in a smart thermostat program. Navigant research indicates these consumers are motivated to enroll in IDSM programs for three primary reasons: The ability to control their home energy usage remotely, save money on their bill, and upgrade their thermostat. The fact that more than two-thirds of end-users are open to enrolling in a thermostat-based program points to a key benefit of the IDSM approach, which is that compared to non-thermostat demand response and energy efficiency programs, it increases the number of prospects that utilities can target for enrollment.

Even more important, perhaps, is that a strong IDSM program by its very nature keeps participants highly engaged. A smart thermostat is best (and often) accompanied by a mobile engagement portal, which for many utilities is a natural program addition that offers undeniable benefits, including helping keep devices online, increasing customer satisfaction, and setting the stage for deeper engagement. In many ways, an integrated demand-side management program is a bridge between utility goals—reliable and predictable results, cost-effectiveness, and new revenue streams—and consumer needs, such as predictable bills, affordable and reliable power, energy efficiency, options, and control. A large number of participants with high levels of engagement is a very valuable resource to deliver results when utilities depend on them.

Of course, the process isn’t without complexity, especially at the start. There are many ways a thermostat can end up in a customer’s home, including direct install, direct install of bring your own thermostat (BYOT), “referred” BYOT, and self-install, and each path requires different action steps and messaging. Drawing on Comverge’s experience enrolling more than two million residential participants into demand management programs, Jason urged utilities to have a well-mapped plan in place for ongoing customer engagement from the beginning. To keep pace with digital demands and consumer expectations, incorporating a portal app with the overall online customer experience as a “first class citizen,” providing streamlined single-sign on, fresh content, and consistent branding, is also critical.

In the field of mechanics, the definition of engagement is “being interlocked to enable coordinated movement.” By interlocking customers and their utilities to better serve both parties’ needs, an integrated DSM program is a coordinated win-win.

For all of the insights from this webinar, check out the on-demand recording. Don’t miss our next webinar on May 24, featuring a discussion of how advancements in demand response technologies can benefit public power utilities.

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