LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., Jan. 19, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- 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. Details of this analysis will be presented today at the 21st National Association of Energy Services Professionals (AESP) Conference & Expo. More than 750 professionals are gathered this week to hear the latest program and technology advances, policy decisions and thought leadership in the field of energy efficiency, demand response and renewable energy.
The research was conducted in Pennsylvania, with customers participating in PPL Electric Utilities' online program, which is powered by the Aclara Energy Analysis solution. It found that customers reduced their energy use a maximum of 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 kWh per year.
Matthew Albrecht, Aclara product manager, is presenting the findings, showing what specifically is working to engage customers in behavioral programs. His presentation will discuss the value of Aclara's approach and discuss why behavioral programs should be designed to not only count savings, but to also determine more specifically what elements of the behavioral program are driving changes.
A similar research study in Arizona by Opinion Dynamics Corporation garnered savings for users of the highest amounts of energy. The Arizona results will be released later this month.
The Pennsylvania study looked at the behavior of customers who participated in the multi-level Aclara energy analysis solution offered on the PPL Electric Utilities' website. The analysis is divided into three levels, allowing users to probe as deeply as they would like, with the ability to return to their own personalized energy center at a later time:
- Level one profiles a customer's heating and cooling system
- Level two includes an appliance inventory and additional details
- Level three takes into account even more specific information about the customer's home energy usage, including water heating and weatherization
Opinion Dynamics found that 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.
"We know consumers have an interest in energy efficiency, and the challenge is to drive them to action. The Energy Analyzer provides useful information and engages consumers," said Tom Stathos, director – customer programs & services at PPL Electric Utilities. "The research data that Opinion Dynamics garnered from our customers who used the Aclara Energy Analyzer application demonstrates this."
"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 consumption," he added. "More than 10 percent of our 1.4 million customers log onto our online Energy Analysis tool regularly."
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.
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