At the 2013 G’Day USA – Australia Week, American and Australian energy experts, business leaders and government officials talked about moving forward to a low carbon economy and changing consumption behavior in modern and contemporary societies.
For the past 10 years, G’DAY USA has showcased Australian business capabilities in the USA. G’DAY USA has brought together industry leaders and key influencers in government, business, tourism, academia and the arts to successfully cultivate and enhance the long term and strong Australia– U.S. relationship. The U.S. is the major foreign investor in Australia and a trading partner. This week, one of the events focused on the energy dialogue, exploring issues in the existing energy infrastructure, proposed upgrades and their impact, changes in consumer behavior and development of new technologies that could promote energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions.
To transition to a low carbon economy, we need to have an informed and efficient market for carbon along with investment in renewable energy. At the same time, regulation is needed to provide standardization and a framework, along with measures to minimize the constrains on competition in the market.
In ordinary market conditions, carbon price results in energy efficiency choices: Production costs become more competitive, presenting opportunities to reduce carbon intensity. There are options to either offset emissions or just go through, with no changes in processes or behavior. Businesses and organizations may respond to carbon pricing in several ways: investing in energy efficiency innovations, replacing fossil fuels with renewables, focusing on internal reuse by capturing wasted energy, purchasing carbon offset units, or a combination of the above. From the end customer point of view, the user has a choice to check competition and replace a supplier, or reduce consumption.
How to engage customers and change energy use behavior?
Understanding of human behavior will help design the most effective programs to motivate and induce change. Purchasing and consumption patterns indicate that money is not the only motivator for consumption. When it comes to energy, users are interested in becoming more engaged and businesses need to find the ways that work well for all stakeholders. For example, Opower platform enable utility companies to engage with end customers. Since 2007, Opower’s solutions have reached more than 15 million homes worldwide, helping utilities and customers reduce energy use and save money, and resulting in a lower carbon footprint. Opower doesn't just provide information about energy usage, but also compares consumption among communities and allows people to see where they 'rank' in terms of their energy use, relatively, to their neighbors. Such comparison motivates users to change their patterns and adjust to the ‘norm’ in their community or neighborhood.
The white paper evaluates utility customer engagement programs and examines their success levels, presents factual analysis based on data gathered, and identifies various trends. The paper also presents approaches to designing successful programs to win over customers and use these as a launch pad for effective engagement.
According to Pike Research, in-home displays that provide meter-based energy use data, pricing alerts based on time-of-use, and billing information had a higher rate of adoption than networked home energy management systems, which are more expensive. Another research by Strategy Analytics found that the growing adoption of smartphone and tablets has accelerated consumers' interest in smart home services in the U.S. and more people are willing to pay for professionally monitored services, such as remote healthcare and energy management at the 'right' price (under $10 a month).
Feedback systems need to give actionable information and not just show a graphical representation of the ups and downs of usage. In addition to user-friendly dashboards, the idea is to give people suggestions on how to make changes and exhibit to them how electricity consumption goes down. Then, show people what they gain and how much money they can save.
Perhaps when, and if, our appliances talk to us, we will be motivated to make behavior changes. Can you imagine your dishwasher calling you to turn it off and restart after 9 PM when electricity demand is low and the price per-watt has the lowest pay-rate? Maybe it can programmed to do so...
1. Opower has several job opportunities. Check here for careers. (((http://opower.com/careers)))))
2. Information about the company is at http://opower.com/
4. G’Day USA – Australia Week: http://www.australia-week.com/