How Artificial Intelligence is Bringing Virtual Home Energy Audits to Life
The COVID-19 pandemic has compelled everyone to alter their ways of working, learning, and playing. The homes have evolved into the focal point of daily existence for many.
FREMONT, CA: The pandemic's acceleration of digitalization and online interaction has a unique lifestyle and corporate consequences. Once-predominantly in-person tasks and interactions have migrated online, digital and virtual lives are becoming more accepted. This change has prompted utilities and energy merchants to pursue a more resilient strategy to numerous demand-side management (DSM) programs.
Traditional DSM programs, which rely primarily on in-person visits and contractor installations, have faced the brunt of social distancing requirements, and it is unknown how long it will take for people to feel comfortable, inviting service providers inside their homes. These indefinite interruptions in DSM programs create significant difficulty for utilities, notably in residential energy assessments, single-speed pool pump replacement, and air conditioner tune-up programs. The backlog of canceled in-home audits, along with an increase in residential energy usage, significantly raises the chance that DSM reductions would fall short of the statutory energy efficiency savings targets for 2020.
As a result, many progressive utilities are adopting artificial intelligence (AI) and digital diversity to retain virtual contact with consumers, backfill energy savings for the year, and strengthen grid resilience in the event of future grid disruptions.
Utilizing Smart Meter Data
By incorporating artificial intelligence algorithms into smart meter data, forward-thinking utilities gain enhanced visibility into load patterns at the appliance level, allowing them to gain a deeper understanding of individual household energy consumption. With targeted intelligence to tailor customer interactions, utilities can resolve and answer diagnostic questions and deliver important cost savings to customers through digital engagement.
Consider the case of home energy evaluations. Historically, house assessments necessitated extensive customer surveys and in-home visits by a utility employee. By leveraging artificial intelligence, granular insights into the time and duration of specific appliance usages, such as HVAC systems, electric vehicle chargers, water heaters, and refrigerators, reveal energy consumption without entering a customer's home or conducting extensive surveys—providing a safer and overall better customer experience. Third-party energy advisers can then lead consumers through the assessment and confirm the results through phone or video conference. Utilities can offer particular incentives or upgrades based on the study to maximize the customer's energy savings.
Not only can virtual audits prevent the need for on-site, in-person visits, they also expedite the process by needing less time to complete and check facts. These initiatives are simple to implement and provide digital tools for quantifying energy savings.
Individualized Behavioral Profiling
Once a utility has consistent access to granular energy consumption data within households, it may segment consumers more precisely to enroll high- and low-efficiency appliance users in demand response (DR) programs or market promotions.
For instance, consumers with high HVAC usage can be targeted to optimize their cooling hours and receive rapid advice such as adding door and window strips and incentives for air conditioning tune-up programs. DIY/tech-savvy clients might also be targeted for bring-your-own-thermostat DR initiatives.
Additionally, this entails identifying low-income households and users of lower baseload consumption, the two groups most impacted by pandemic-related economic downturns, and providing them with useful, individually relevant ideas and recommendations for managing their energy expenditures.
Recognizing that the recent economic downturn has reduced customers' purchasing power to make costly retrofit investments such as solar panels or air conditioning system upgrades, utilities can use this as an opportunity to reduce transactional conversations and focus on behavioral changes that promote energy savings. Personalized home energy reports supplied via email that includes appliance usage and monthly bill breakdowns enable clients to make quick adjustments to their energy expenses without waiting two or three years for a return on investment on retrofits.
Each encounter increases client trust and pleasure while also keeping them virtually connected to their required resources.
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