The relationship between energy suppliers and their customers are experiencing a period of transformation like never before seen. Gone are the days where the only interactions you would have with your electric company were monthly bills and the odd call when there was an outage or other issue, we’re now in the time where utilities are looking to work with customers to boost the energy efficiency of homes and businesses, smart meters that allow real-time two-way communication about peak loads and changing rates, and energy supplier social media accounts are interacting with customers on a daily basis.
Among the most exciting developments in interactivity with energy suppliers is the trend of these companies creating apps for smart devices (such as phones, tablets, and computers) to allow their customers to be more connected and informed no matter where they are. These companies have implemented a good bit of trial and error in developing the best apps from a consumer perspective, leading to some really terrific apps.
If you’ve never explored whether your energy supplier has an app so you can’t even imagine what possibilities they offer, then read on to see the offerings from some of the industry’s best apps and what they can do. Direct Energy App Direct Energy is a retail provider of energy and energy services that was founded in 1986. But starting in 2015, Direct Energy began offering an online app to its customers. According to the website, this app “shares everything you need to be a smart energy consumer,” including paying bills, monitoring home energy usage, and more.
It’s the energy usage aspect that really appeals to customers as an innovative and cool feature, providing data on how much and when your home uses energy, comparing that with your historical energy usage, determine what the heavy energy users in your home are, and even receive estimates of upcoming power bills based on predicted weather (since heating and cooling is the single greatest factor in variable energy use in a home). The Direct Energy app is a great example of how energy providers can put more information in the hands of consumers to assist them in making wise energy choices. Infinite Energy App Infinite Energy is a commercial natural gas and electricity company that serves Florida, Georgia, New York, New Jersey, and Texas. While Infinite Energy’s apps also offered all of the basics like paying a bill and viewing all the information the customers would expect from the basic website, they offered an innovative idea that appeals to any customer: rewards! This utility created a rewards program that allowed customers to earn points, later redeemable for gift cards, if they consistently checked and improved their household’s energy use.
Reducing energy use provides financial benefits on its own, but consumers who see their energy reductions through the lens of keeping score like it’s a game and ‘winning’ gift cards are more likely to adopt new and energy efficienty habits, making Infinite Energy’s app truly innovative. Tendril Utility Apps Tendril is a mobile company who developed the MyHome app that was first adopted by Duke Energy and American Electric Power. Recognizing how behind the game power providers were in offering intuitive and useful mobile apps, Tendril built one on their own from the ground up with the end user in mind—not the utility companies. In doing so, Tendril’s MyHome app integrated features such as:
Unfortunately, outages caused by extreme weather and wildfires has become a somewhat regular event in California. Recognizing that customers were demanding more information in quicker fashion and actions they could take in the face of such outages, Southern California Edison created a smartphone app to address these concerns. Using the SCE Outages application, users could navigate an interactive map of outages, find expected power restoration times, and report concerns or outages of their own. This increased interaction helps customers be better prepared to respond to emergency, while giving utilities the ability to stay more connected and fix issues more quickly and efficiently. The success of this sharing of information with customers led Southern California Edison to also create a designated demand response app for their customers.
Using this app, customers will get automated and timely notifications straight to their phone when the grid is struggling to keep up with demand and electricity rates are increased to try to mitigate that load. Upon receiving that alert, customers can turn off lights or unnecessary appliances and not only help avoid blackouts from utility strain but also save money. The advent of mobile solutions from energy providers is a mutually beneficial development. While customers get more accessibility with their power companies and can save energy and money using them, the utilities gain important information about their customers, can prevent overloading their systems, and ensure a higher rate of customer satisfaction. Because of these factors, high-tech apps from energy providers are only expected to become more useful and ubiquitous.