Landmark Studies Document the Power of Energy Education
ATLANTA, March 14, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — APOGEE Interactive, Inc., a 20 year leader in providing online energy education and analysis applications for utilities, announced today the results of three studies conducted over the past two years investigating the impact of energy education and competitions on energy use. Researchers set out to document changes in usage where the Apogee online energy education tools are integrated into the utility’s billing and/or metering system. Results were an impressive range of energy reductions from an average of almost 4 percent for users of online bill analysis self-assessments to over 20 percent when competition and social media were included. These studies, conducted by industry visionary Joel Gilbert, P.E., and lead investigator Lei Wang, Ph.D., used the industry-standard methodologies for calculating energy impacts.
The first study sought to answer, “Do customers performing an online energy audit use less energy as a result?” This study, conducted with a major east coast investor owned utility and confirmed as accurate by their M&V consultants, produced some eye-opening outcomes. It considered hundreds of thousands of billing records for more than ten thousand customers comparing a control group to the treatment group of customers using Apogee’s online audit. Conclusion: Across all sizes of customers, savings was a remarkable 4 percent.
A related and interesting finding of this study, which has major implications for utilities with energy efficiency or demand response program goals, was that users of the online energy audit were 5 times more likely than the general population to participate in the utility’s energy efficiency programs.
According to study director and Apogee Chief Software Architect, Joel Gilbert, the findings merit serious consideration as utilities contemplate programs intended to balance cost-effectiveness with impact. “The slogan goes, ‘An educated consumer is your best customer,’ and that is what our research confirms. The cost of a self-audit is pennies compared to hundreds of dollars for an in-home visit by a professional auditor,” explained Gilbert.
Another study, performed with a large investor owned utility in the southeast, quantified impacts resulting from in-home energy audits conducted onsite with professionally trained energy auditors. In this case, annual energy use before the audit was compared quarterly for a period of one year following the audit. Progress reports showing the impact of having made changes to the home or behavior post-audit were mailed to customers. On average, a 7 percent reduction in energy use was documented.
The last study, performed with a municipal utility in the southeast, looked at a school-to-school competition to reduce energy use in the school facilities through behavior alone. This 2 year competition using interval meter data for the 13 schools enabled students, teachers, and administrators to consistently track an astonishing 12 percent year-on-year weather-adjusted reduction in kWh using nothing more than behavior – students and teachers turning things off when they were not needed. The three best performing schools topped 20 percent energy savings. Prize money was computed as a portion of the energy cost savings produced for the school as a result of lower energy bills.
Overall, Gilbert and Wang found that energy education, fueled by inexpensive communication and accelerated by competition, are the low-hanging fruit of the energy efficiency challenge. In an age where dependence on foreign oil threatens our national security, and escalating energy costs weaken customers’ ability to pay their bills, it is imperative utilities do all they can to leverage low-cost and effective means of changing customer behavior.
Study authors Gilbert and Wang will conduct a webinar sharing details of these studies and answers to questions about their findings and future plans on Tuesday, April 10th at 2:00 PM Eastern. There is no cost to participate, but the event is limited to the first 100 registrants. Click here to register.
About APOGEE Interactive, Inc.
APOGEE Interactive, Inc. (www.apogee.net) is a leading provider of online energy efficiency solutions to the utility industry. A certified woman-owned business founded in 1993, Apogee’s energy analysis applications are currently in use by more than 600 utilities across the US, reaching millions of customers daily. Apogee’s clients span a wide range of leading investor-owned, public power and cooperative energy companies including such energy leaders as American Electric Power (AEP), Southern Company (SO), PSEG (PEG), PECO (EXC), Consolidated Edison (ED), NSTAR (NST), BG&E (CEG), Entergy (ETR), SMUD, Jackson EMC and more.
SOURCE APOGEE Interactive, Inc.