Now That's What We Call Smart: Using Smart Thermostats to Deliver Energy Savings | Alliance to Save Energy
09/09/19 : Melissa Lavinson

Now That's What We Call Smart: Using Smart Thermostats to Deliver Energy Savings

By Melissa Lavinson, senior vice president, governmental and external affairs, Pepco Holdings

[Editor’s note: We asked the 2019 Star of Dynamic Efficiency, Pepco Holdings, to explain how they developed and instituted their programs to help customers save money and energy during peak energy usage periods. Here’s their story.]

Pepco Holdings, which includes Delmarva Power and Pepco in Maryland, is driving behavioral change when it comes to customer energy use thanks in large part to the flexibility customers have with a smart thermostat.

By now, smart thermostats are in many homes, making it convenient for residents to save energy. At Delmarva Power and Pepco, we knew that smart thermostats had potential beyond their basic functions. So, we set out to engage customers beyond the point of purchase—months after they installed the device in their home. We designed two programs to keep customers engaged in their energy footprint.

The first is our Bring Your Own Device Program. Instead of offering a one-time rebate on one specific thermostat, we decided to put our customers in control. Customers get to choose which qualified model works best for them—because, after all, they are the ones who have to use it. As long as they choose an eligible smart, learning thermostat, participants can receive up to $40 in annual bill credits for allowing Delmarva Power or Pepco to reduce air conditioner run times on peak demand days through a pre-existing program called Energy Wise RewardsTM (EWR).

In the past, customers enrolled in EWR who upgraded to a smart thermostat were unable to stay in EWR. But now the EWR savings through demand response offers savings to more customers than ever before.

Our second innovative program is called Thermostat Optimization Program, or TOP. Customers who enroll in this program accumulate savings throughout the full year. The program makes slight temperature setpoint adjustments to participants’ heating and cooling schedules, but with minimal impact on their comfort. By the end of the year, nearly 100 kilowatt-hours have been saved. Program participants also receive customized Virtual Energy Assessments. These use insights from their energy consumption data, thermostat data, and weather data to determine which of our other energy efficiency programs can help them save the most energy.

It’s important to us that our customers feel valued. We know they’re busy, so we designed a single enrollment portal for both of these programs. This way, customers know their options and can choose what makes the most sense for their household. We launched the user-friendly portal in December 2018, and since then, more than 90 percent of our new customers have opted to participate in both programs. The remaining 10 percent choose one or the other.

We work hard to provide our customers with safe, reliable, affordable, and sustainable energy service—and we are committed to continuous improvement and innovation. As a leader in the energy business, we are designing dynamic demand-response programs that meet customers where they are to offer energy-saving options that fit their lifestyles.

To learn about the 2019 Evening with the Stars of Energy Efficiency Awards Gala, visit the Alliance’s event page.