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Opower in bid to change consumer behaviour in Europe

May 2013

Leading US cleantech company, Opower is launching into the European market in a bid to repeat its success in the US. 
 
Sitting at the apex of ‘big data’ and ‘big electricity’, Opower has transformed the US electric utility market by creating a new way for consumers to access and use data to make changes in their energy consumption behaviour. Indeed, over the last 4 years, Opower has generated a saving of 2 Terrawatt hours in the US which equates to around $230m saved energy dollars. “Or put another way, enough energy to power the London Underground for 18 months or the city of Sheffield for a year,” Alex Laskey, president and co-founder, Opower, told Ethical Performance.
 
Currently the UK is wasting $1.7bn worth of energy a year, according to Laskey. “That energy could be saved with no new technology, just the simple provision of better information,” he maintains. 
 
In the UK Opower is partnering initially with First Utility and in France with EDF though Laskey is keen to work with more utility providers.
 
First Utility has 100,000 customers in the UK. Each has access to a portal where they can see how much power they are using and how they can save. They are also receiving email alerts and SMS messages giving them insights into their energy usage. A randomly selected subset of customers are also receiving reports via the post which are personalised and compare their usage to their neighbours. Early data is showing that when presented with such data, consumers do change their behaviour.
 
A great believer in behavioural science, Laskey maintains that showing a consumer that they are using double the amount of energy than his neighbours, acts as a catalyst for change. The reports also use ‘loss language’ so instead of telling consumers how much they will save by taking certain energy-saving actions, it tells them how much they are losing. “We value loss more than future gains,” he said.
 
Opower started off in the residential market but over the course of the last 2 years has moved into an SME application, an offer that Laskey says the company will be enriching later this year. 



Opower | Europe | Energy Saving

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