According to a new report from The Advanced Energy Economy (AEE), “Extensive research has found that the average utility customer spends nine minutes per year thinking about their energy use.”
Behavioral energy efficiency (BEE) employs behavioral science to produce simple, actionable messages that are relevant to customers and motivate them to save energy, says the AEE report “Advanced Energy Technologies for Greenhouse Gas Reduction.”
Opower has made a name for itself as a behavioral energy efficiency company that works with 93 utility partners in 35 states and eight countries around the world. Among its techniques, Opower uses peer pressure to compare residential customers’ energy usage against their neighbors. Opower recently filed an initial public offering, and its success has drawn attention to other behavioral energy efficiency companies, including Tendril, which recently won a contract with Seattle City Light.
“Dozens of independent evaluations have found BEE programs consistently produce savings of 1.5-3.5 percent per household,” says the AEE report.
But what about behavioral programs for commercial energy users?
Opower says it is extending its services to small and medium business, but hasn’t made any announcements of big projects.
Cenergistic offers a Transformational Energy Management process that trains its clients’ personnel to implement behavioral and organizational changes that reduce energy consumption without the purchase of new equipment.
In London, Canadian-based Pulse Energy says it will provide energy efficiency reports to British Gas’ 900,000 commercial customers in a three-year, multi-million-dollar contract. The Pulse Platform for utilities’ commercial businesses includes multiple communications channels that drive behavior change.
But in the United States, no Opower-like BEE product has really made a big splash in the commercial sector.
A doctoral student in the School of Architecture at Carnegie Mellon University developed an intelligent dashboard to evaluate plug load energy savings in the workplace, and initial trials found that office workers who used the dashboard saved 35.4 percent in plug load energy compared to their colleagues.
Recently, the Institute for Market Transformation and the US Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Alliance honored 14 property owners, tenants and brokers who are effectively using the lease as a tool to save energy in commercial buildings.
Perhaps the time has come for a commercial product that compares building tenants’ energy consumption with each other.
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