A recent Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative study shows that consumers are interested in many smart grid benefits not associated with cost savings, such as availability of near real-time energy use information and integrating more renewable energy sources. “We found that the most commonly-discussed benefits like cost saving and greater power reliability, while important, represent only a part of a broader spectrum of smart grid and smart meter benefits that are appealing to the average consumer,” said SGCC Executive Director Patty Durand. “To achieve greater impact upon a diverse customer base, utilities should take care to bring these other benefits into their marketing messages.”
The report goes on to explain how the survey was conducted. “Survey participants were asked to rate the importance of seven potential benefits of smart grid and smart meters, including ease of connecting renewable energy sources to the electric grid, reduced outages, new cost-saving rate plans, fewer new power plant investments, increased quality of power delivery, availability of near real-time energy use information and more accurate billing. Critically, each benefit was found to be important to 80% or more of respondents.”
Taking these findings into account, it is essential for utilities to emphasize the variety of benefits that consumers can realize from the smart grid. Making near real-time energy use information available may prove to be a particularly compelling benefit as it will allow customers to better understand and manage their own energy consumption. Translating this data into a format that is easily understandable and interesting will be a critical component of enabling these customers to truly engage with their electricity use.
One highly effective way of getting people engaged with information is to make it available to them on platforms where they are already spending time, such as Facebook, email, and mobile applications. The next step is to make the information social, by using game mechanics to allow people to compare their data with others in their network and compete to improve against their friends. This approach is already working well for many industries, and utilities who follow their example will see similar success.
To learn more about how to leverage the power of online social networks and game mechanics to achieve effective customer engagement in smart grid rollout, contact Simple Energy today.