2019 Star of Dynamic Efficiency
With emerging technologies on the rise, utilities are faced with the challenge of leveraging smart home technologies beyond the initial purchase to attain additional energy efficiency and demand response savings. Customers’ adoption of smart thermostats is well documented and is often leveraged by utility-run energy efficiency programs, but utilities have been slow to utilize smart thermostat’s ability to engage customers beyond the point of purchase. Pepco and Delmarva Power (DPL), collectively Pepco Holdings, are running Demand Side Management (DSM) programs of the future by catering to customers with smart thermostats through two new programs, Bring Your Own Device and Thermostat Optimization. Beyond incentivizing the purchase of a smart thermostat, Pepco Holdings has identified four key areas that can be targeted through both thermostat programs:
- Enhanced energy efficiency through the Thermostat Optimization Program (TOP)
- Customer engagement using thermostat data, energy consumption data, and weather data to help customers identify energy efficiency programs that would be ideal to their specific home.
- Increased participation by supplementing their existing demand response program, Energy Wise Rewards™ (EWR)
- Reduction of lost participation in Energy Wise Rewards Program due to smart thermostat adoption
Pepco Holdings is a leader among the Maryland utilities with their unique BYOD programs that effectively bridge energy efficiency and demand response initiatives. Pepco Holdings customers who own smart thermostats now can simultaneously enroll in both the, energy efficiency program, Thermostat Optimization Program (TOP), as well as Energy Wise Rewards, the demand response program. Customer enrollments occur through a single online process and are offered at no additional cost to customers.
The Thermostat Optimization Program makes slight temperature setpoint adjustments to participants’ heating and cooling schedules to create incremental savings throughout the whole year—all with minimal impact on their comfort. The program has proven to be a successful way to accumulate significant savings, approximately 100 kWh per year, by optimizing smart thermostats. In addition to the enhanced energy efficiency, TOP participants also receive customized Virtual Energy Assessments, which utilize thermostat data, energy consumption data, and weather data, to detail which utility-sponsored energy efficiency programs would help them save the most energy.
The EWR BYOD option allows customers to participate in demand response with any program-eligible smart, learning thermostat. Participants receive up to $40 in annual bill credits for allowing Pepco Holdings to reduce air conditioner run times on peak demand days. The BYOD option for EWR has effectively given customers choices other than the utility-selected option in their thermostat selection and allows them to gain benefits of the energy efficiency while remaining eligible for the demand response offering.
Through other comparable programs and pilots in the region, participants in the EWR program are expected to provide similar savings to those EWR participants who are participating at the 50% cycling option.
Both Pepco and Delmarva Power have streamlined enrollment for both the TOP and EWR BYOD Programs by having both programs as options within a single enrollment portal. Launched in December of 2018, over 90% of new customers have opted to participate in both the TOP and EWR BYOD programs; the remainder opt into one program or the other. Pepco and DPL has successfully bridged energy efficiency and demand response programs, which is frequently discussed as an aspirational goal of utilities. This bridge is Pepco Holdings’ effort to lead the Mid-Atlantic utilities into the DSM programs of the future where utilities can “meet the customers where they are” (in their homes) by providing energy-saving services for existing equipment and helping customers make smart and streamlined energy choices.