Your Energy Coach Talks Air Conditioning
Local residents step up to Hydro Ottawa's Summer Saving Day challenge
What motivates you to conserve electricity and save money on your power bill?
This summer, Hydro Ottawa applied the principles of behavourial science and personalized communications to encourage Ottawa residents to reduce their energy use during peak periods.
About 50,000 randomly selected residential customers have been enrolled in a pilot project that runs from July until September. Hydro Ottawa has reached out to these customers through direct mail, email and phone, to encourage them to be more energy efficient on select summer days when the temperature is particularly hot – deemed Summer Saving Days.
Afterward, each customer is notified to tell them how much energy they used on the Summer Saving Day and where they ranked among 100 comparable households. Participation is completely voluntary – customers can opt out at any time.
“This is an effort to engage people and start a conversation about energy use and conservation,” said Owen Mahaffy, Hydro Ottawa’s Director, Communications and Public Affairs. “The program has been well-received and it’s confirmed that Ottawa is a very engaged and connected community.”
Ottawa is one of six municipalities engaged in this pilot and the only one in Canada. The others are in the U.S. To date, peak consumption over the allotted five-hour period each day has been reduced among participating local households by more than three per cent. That’s enough to put Ottawa first among the group.
“These are great, bankable results,” Mahaffy said. “Our customers are getting the message and responding. They are seeing the benefits and the power grid is seeing the benefits. It makes people question how they use electricity and what is making them rank a certain way versus their neighbours.”
Hydro Ottawa offers tools for residents to track their electricity usage by the day, and even the hour, to understand their consumption habits. Until now, only about 40 per cent of the utility’s customers have taken advantage of the tools available. This pilot program aims to grow that number.
“We see Summer Saving Day as a way to create more two-way dialogue and educate people about how they can effect change that benefits their pocketbooks,” Mahaffy said. “Our next step will be a survey to obtain a deeper understanding of what residents think about this program.”
Summer Savings Day is a pilot initiative of the Ontario Ministry of Energy’s Smart Grid Fund. Hydro Ottawa is collaborating with Opower, a company that provides tools, information and incentives to equip customers with valuable insights and context about their electricity use during high demand periods.