As the spread of novel coronavirus impacts families and households across North America, we are all facing a new reality and feeling at least a little anxious about the future. Energy consumers receiving Home Energy Reports (HERs) are spending more time at home, many of whom have changes in their job–adding to concerns over energy bills and usage. In fact, Uplight’s data scientists are already seeing evidence of increased household energy usage, and will continue watching these usage trends as social distancing and stay home policies continue.
In turn, energy providers are responding with changes to their own programs and outbound communications. For example, many utilities have doubled down on their dedication to continue service during the crisis (and doing things like suspending disconnects and eliminating late fees), and are revising programs and messaging to help customers spending their time at home.
At Uplight we have been working with our utility partners to respond to the pandemic. We have developed guidance around COVID-19 utility customer engagement to bring end-users peace of mind (and lower bills) and to help utilities communicate important information during this time of crisis.
Behavioral energy efficiency (BEE), including Home Energy Reports, is one of utilities’ most important tools right now. Not only is BEE free for customers, but customers are making several adjustments in their routines, and might be even more receptive to simple things they can do to lower their bills right now.
More than 6.5 million households currently receive our paper and digital HERs. To adapt our HERs to the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re:
- Updating the HERs introduction to acknowledge the situation and address customer worries upfront like loss of power.
- Including tips that help customers manage their energy use while spending more time at home, like device load management. We are also intersecting energy tips with best practices of health and safety, like reminding customers ways they can wash their hands and reduce hot water usage at the same time.
- Focusing recommendations on the easy, low cost, or no cost suggestions customers can do on their own. Many utilities have limited programs and efficiency upgrades requiring an in-home contractor or utility technician during quarantines.
We are also making similar updates to our online engagement portal and some of our outbound alerts, as we have found digital communications are especially critical right now.
Not only is making these timely updates to our products the right thing to do, but it also underscores why Uplight is a B-Corp. We prioritize putting the end-user first, reducing energy consumption and bill costs, and being responsible partners to our energy providers.
So far we have seen high levels of adoption. We’ve had a number of inquiries, discussions, and brainstorms with our customers about actions to take in the midst of the COVID-19 quarantine. If you are a customer and want to talk more, please contact your Customer Success Manager, or let us know here. In the meantime, we will continue to adapt our other products and share lessons learned to help utilities and their customers during this time.