Active Efficiency in Action
The best way to understand the value of Active Efficiency is to see it in action. There are many examples that demonstrate the potential of Active Efficiency. Between the economic, social, and environmental benefits, the hard work that goes into making these examples successful is something to be celebrated.
El Paso Electric Marketplace: Integrating Energy Efficiency and Demand Response
After a steady increase in Texas’ peak demand over the past decade, El Paso Electric (EPE) needed a way to improve energy efficiency and decrease costs in its Texas and New Mexico service areas. In August 2020, EPE partnered with energy solutions provider Uplight to introduce a “one-stop shop” online marketplace, which, rather than presenting EPE’s range of energy efficiency programs separately, enables customers to easily apply an Active Efficiency approach to energy savings by providing access to energy-efficient equipment, digital technologies, and a demand response program on a single platform. This is especially important for encouraging customers to simultaneously purchase smart thermostats and enroll in EPE’s Energy Wise Savings Program, a demand response program which offers monetary enrollment bonuses for customers. Uplight reports that 60-80% of marketplace customers who buy a smart thermostat also successfully activate it within the demand response program, compared to fewer than 8% of U.S. homes equipped with smart thermostats that were enrolled in a utility thermostat DR program in 2018. With this approach, EPE and Uplight were able to achieve 70% of the program enrollment target within four months.
To help ensure smart thermostat purchases are coupled with demand response enrollment, the EPE marketplace’s messaging connects the product (smart thermostat) with the service (demand response) and includes behavioral prompts (e.g., installation how-to videos, reminders of the monetary incentives) to nudge customers to complete their enrollment. As enrollment increases, EPE can leverage more smart thermostat controls to maintain comfort for customers while providing greater load flexibility for the grid in the summer. For example, during periods of peak demand, the program allows EPE to adjust the energy use of customers’ air-conditioning units through remote control of enrolled smart thermostats. This type of “one-stop shop” streamlines the pathway to Active Efficiency benefits by motivating customers to implement complementary energy efficiency measures at once, and has already been proven successful by Consumers Energy.