Home News The art of thoughtful disruption: reimagining the Opower Home Energy Report (part...

The art of thoughtful disruption: reimagining the Opower Home Energy Report (part 1)


Our perception of change is interesting: it can feel gradual or sudden, and sometimes it feels gradual while you are in it and then incredibly fast when you look back.

Reed Hastings’ decision to move people away from DVDs and toward Netflix’s new online streaming platform back in 2011 was sudden, and it almost killed the company. But now, customers that originally revolted probably couldn’t imagine life without instant access to movies and television shows. Elon Musk and Tesla were met with similar skepticism moving from luxury cars to mass market electric vehicles (EV). The change from the Model S to the Model 3 felt gradual at the time, and then the Model 3 suddenly became the best-selling EV in the US.

In each instance, these visionary executives could have thought, “don’t mess with success, what we are doing right now is working.” Instead, they rightly changed things up to ensure their companies and products would fulfill their potential and grow with the changing needs of consumers. This brings us to a market-defining product that may not be as ubiquitous as Netflix or as flashy as a Tesla, but perhaps just as important: the Home Energy Report.

Home Energy Reports are as important as ever
Home Energy Reports (HERs) have proven that small behavior changes can add up to a big impact. Utilities trust them to deliver reliable energy efficiency, increase customer satisfaction and scale up adoption of energy products and services. To date, Opower has delivered nearly 1 billion HERs and generated more than 25 terawatt-hours of savings, enough energy to power San Francisco households for more than a decade.

Despite that impact, some still underestimate the Home Energy Report. This perception is inaccurate says Beth Fitzjarrald, a senior research manager of customer energy solutions at E Source, who recently said HER programs are “the biggest, baddest behavioral programs out there right now.” We completely agree. At the same time, we see so much more that needs to be done, and so much more the HER needs to become.

The HER’s critical role
The HER has a critical role to play in building a clean energy future, and its job extends well beyond cost-effective energy efficiency. Bringing millions of energy consumers into that future means fundamentally changing how utilities interact with their customers.

Each and every HER needs to be an invitation to a new, more valuable relationship. That means making vastly different customers more aware of their own ways to save energy and money; everyone from EV, DER, and smart homeowners to the millions of limited income families struggling to pay bills, especially right now. It means making it easier than ever for customers to engage digitally and adopt the behaviors, programs, home upgrades, DERs, and utility-offered automation programs that will help them save. HERs need to influence and accelerate those behaviors at enormous scale. And by doing that well, HERs can help utilities meet their emissions goals, capture more lifetime value from each customer relationship, and operate more flexible, more resilient networks. That’s the potential we see in HERs. To fulfill it, they’re going to need some upgrades.

Look for the second part of this blog series where we challenge our own assumptions of behavioral science, and reimagine the Home Energy Report.

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