Smart Grid News and Analysis

IoT World Forum 2018
IoT World Forum 2018

Behavioral Energy Efficiency Can Slash 10 Million Tons of CO2, Save US Consumers $2.2 billion


Opower, the global leader in customer engagement solutions for the utility industry, today published a study revealing that behavioral energy efficiency has the potential to capture at least $2.2 billion in US customer bill savings per year, or 10 million metric tons in abated carbon. This is more than twice as much as the entire solar industry in the United States, and enough to take the entire state of Arkansas off the grid.

“Utilities face a new set of challenges due to stricter energy efficiency targets, combined with the phase-out of compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) programs and falling electricity generation costs,” said Dan Yates, CEO and co-founder at Opower. “Behavioral energy efficiency presents a real opportunity for utilities to harness the most powerful renewable resource: people. By engaging customers via personalized messages on multiple channels, utilities are able to reduce energy, engage their customers, and improve their bottom line.”

U.S. power plants emit roughly 2.4 billion tons of CO2 per year, accounting for approximately 40% of the nation’s total global warming pollution. To date, most abatement plans have focused on reducing emissions through expensive retrofits to plants, such as carbon capture technology. However, by deploying cost-effective energy efficiency programs, such as behavioral energy efficiency, utilities can achieve significant reductions in energy savings across a large customer base. Behavioral energy efficiency, which includes sending personalized, targeted, multi-channel communications to utility customers, motivates customers to make smarter decisions and save energy in a way that is sustainable over time.

The Opower study found that the if behavioral energy efficiency were fully implemented in just three states — say Florida, Texas and New York — it could prevent emissions of over 2.23 million tons of CO2 each year — which is the equivalent of taking over 464,000 cars off of America’s roads. Five states alone — California, Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, and New York — could cumulatively save families and businesses $947 million a year. Behavioral energy efficiency is projected to have a multi-billion dollar impact worldwide.

The Opower study is based on results from 218 large-scale behavioral feedback programs conducted by Opower across more than 8 million households and 88 U.S. utilities. Behavioral programs similar to Opower are cost effective for 79 million households, or 61 percent of the US population. While most end-use efficiency programs generate savings indiscriminately, Opower’s programs can be targeted to deliver savings in specific localities. For utilities, behavioral efficiency offers a scalable, easy-to-deploy alternative to building new capacity, and ensures that savings are achieved through rigorous measurement and verification measures.

SOURCE: Opower