Meet Open Quantify Access: Measuring Energy Savings Should Be Easy

New, free tool allows contractors, homeowners and energy professionals to quickly and easily measure energy savings from a project.

The key to a good energy efficiency retrofit is a great contractor. Contractors are the lifeblood of energy efficiency programs. They are the face of the operation, the person that explains energy efficiency to homeowners. And most importantly, contractors are responsible for installing and repairing the equipment that take homes from being energy hogs to comfortable, affordable and efficient residences.

OQA-house-landing-page-400pxEfficiency contractors are experts in their field. They model savings, work closely with homeowners to design retrofits and deliver the benefits. But ask a contractor how much energy is saved from their projects and they will likely be baffled. That’s because measuring energy savings from residential retrofits is challenging. It requires compiling data from the meter, weather normalizing that data, and factoring in the equipment that was installed in the home. Contractors are running businesses, retrofitting homes, working with utilities to acquire leads, and explaining efficiency to customers – they don’t have time to crunch numbers to measure the savings from their projects. But home performance contractors want to know what impact they are having on their customers. They go through training, learn their trade and know that they do quality work. But they are rarely able to verify their performance with actual savings measurement.

Enter Open Quantify Access (OQA)

OQA is a free and open tool that allows contractors, homeowners and energy professionals to quickly and easily measure energy savings from a project. Users provide meter and project data; OQA does the rest. With OQA, contractors can finally measure and track project performance. With OQA, homeowners can finally measure savings from their residential retrofits. With OQA, energy savings measurement is demystified and easily accessible for program participants and stakeholders. OQA is based on technology from Optix Quantify, which aggregates savings from multiple projects and measures savings continuously. OQA provides measurement of gross savings from individual projects with weather normalization and follows existing industry protocols. EnergySavvy is preparing to launch OQA later this year. Sign up here to learn more and be the first to test drive this exciting free tool.

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New Tool Takes the Pain out of HPXML Testing

EnergySavvy makes new program-specific HPXML Validator open, free, and available to any contractor, in-home auditor, and audit software provider.

bpi-certified-professionalIn June of 2013, the Building Performance Institute announced a new data standard to reduce the pain and frustration associated with data collection within the home performance industry. BPI-2100, also known as the Standard for Home Performance–Related Data Transfer, or HPXML, allows software used by contractors, auditors, and utilities to “talk” to one another. With HPXML, utilities and software vendors can choose best-in-class modeling and audit tools while lowering the cost of implementation.

EnergySavvy customers have already seen the benefits of deploying HPXML – contractor satisfaction skyrockets and the time required to complete projects drops dramatically.  However, adopting HPXML isn’t easy if you don’t have the right tools and team in place. Testing the standard can be time consuming for the modeling tool vendors and program staff, and lead to unhappy contractors if software compatibility is not guaranteed. Historically, HPXML testing has been done with generic text editors that are inefficient and non-program specific. While working with several utilities across the country like Arizona Public Service (APS) and Salt River Project (SRP) on their Home Performance with Energy Star programs, EnergySavvy recognized an opportunity for process improvement: a quick way to test HPXML compliance for individual programs.

TradeAllies_2This winter, EnergySavvy created the HPXML Validator – a standalone validation tool accessible through a simple URL. Using the tool, anyone can upload a file and quickly identify if it meets the unique HPXML requirements of a program; and if not, where the error lies. It goes beyond the recently announced NREL HPXML validator by validating the program-specific errors that can easily stand in the way of a successful software integration.

For utility personnel and the developers of in-home audit and modeling tools, the HPXML Validator serves as a source of truth by reflecting the most up-to-date information, straight from the program code. It eliminates confusion and functions as a go-to reference for all involved parties. Whether a new audit software provider would like to participate in a program, or a current one requires modifications to accommodate program changes, compliance testing becomes quick and easy.

Since its creation in October, the tool has already been put to good use. Adam Stenftenagel, Co-Founder and CEO of audit software company Snugg Home commented, “EnergySavvy’s new HPXML Validator is a huge time saver for us. It was previously really difficult to test our files and we often had to pass files back and forth to see if they worked for various programs. Now we can quickly test our files in any of the programs in both the production and development environments.”

 

Connect with our product team to access the HPXML Validator or learn more about tools that can improve contractor satisfaction while reducing data error rates.  

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EnergySavvy Named to Global Cleantech 100, Welcomes New Clients

EnergySavvy welcomes DTE Energy and Indiana Michigan Power to our growing list of utility clients and announces significant new deployments at Salt River Project, Columbia Gas of Ohio, and Tennessee Valley Authority.

4) 2015_GlobalCleantech100_eBadge_Top100_071415EnergySavvy is honored to be named to the 2015 Global Cleantech 100, produced by Cleantech Group. The Global Cleantech 100 represents the most innovative and promising ideas in cleantech. Featuring companies that are best positioned to solve tomorrow’s clean technology challenges, Global Cleantech 100 is a comprehensive list of private companies with the highest potential to make the most significant market impact.

This year, a record number of nominations were received: 6,900 distinct companies from 60 countries. These companies were weighted and scored to create a short list of 323 companies. Short-listed nominees were reviewed by Cleantech Group’s Expert Panel, resulting in a finalized list of 100 companies from 17 countries.

“We’re honored to be recognized among a stellar group of companies from around the world,” said Aaron Goldfeder, CEO of EnergySavvy. “And we’re even more excited to announce new and deeper relationships with some of the nation’s biggest and most respected utilities. We’re honored to work with these clients who have chosen our solutions to drive broad customer engagement across their many value-added programs.”

Last year, EnergySavvy expanded its customer engagement solution, Optix Engage, to include small and midsize business, as well as direct mail and mobile solutions to reach the entire utility customer base. The entire solution drives the highest completion rates in the industry and is designed to compel action – namely, driving program participation and higher customer satisfaction.

EnergySavvy welcomes DTE Energy and Indiana Michigan Power, a division of AEP, to the company’s more than 30 utility clients. DTE Energy is launching Optix Engage Residential, EnergySavvy’s consumer-focused online engagement solution. At DTE, the solution is a core component of a customer engagement initiative lead by Walker-Miller Energy Services.

Indiana Michigan Power chose Engage for Business, an online engagement solution for its small-to-midsize businesses in Michigan. “We want to make it as easy as possible for our business customers to participate in energy and money-saving programs,” said Jon Walter, Regulatory Analysis and Case Manager at Indiana Michigan Power. “EnergySavvy’s solution will provide a fast and effective way for our customers to make a positive impact on their business.”

EnergySavvy is pleased to announce that Salt River Project expands its use of Optix Engage to include Engage Direct, an easy-to-use direct-mail energy assessment that enables engagement with customers who don’t interact with their utility online. EnergySavvy also announces that Columbia Gas of Ohio and Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), have selected Optix Manage to automate and enhance their income-eligible offerings.

As part of TVA’s Smart Communities Extreme Energy Makeovers initiative, 4-County Electric Power Association also chose Optix Quantify, EnergySavvy’s savings measurement software, to bolster its customer engagement and education through continuous data analytics. “The goals of the program are an electric energy usage reduction target of 25% per home, with an implementation cost of approximately $10.00 per square foot and an annual savings of 1,000 Megawatt-hours,” said Jon Turner, Manager of Marketing for 4-County Electric Power Association. “We selected ICF International along with EnergySavvy to streamline our operations while ensuring the best experience for all customers.”

Mass Save Increases LED Click-To-Buy Rate by 3x

How do you get 2.5 million customers to participate in your energy efficiency programs?

Mass-Save-Infographic-drop-shadowIn order to “engage the masses” and drive energy savings, Mass Save sought a customer solution that would rev up homeowner interest and increase energy efficiency program involvement. Through their efforts, they more than tripled industry average participation rates in a click-to-buy LED bulb campaign. How’d they do it? Visit the infographic and read more below.

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) recently voted Massachusetts #1 in energy efficiency on their annual state scorecard for a record fifth year in a row. At the heart of this achievement sits Mass Save – a unique initiative that encompasses the coordinated energy efficiency programs for eight major utilities and energy efficiency service providers in Massachusetts. The initiative demonstrates continuous dedication to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and helps Massachusetts maintain its #1 standing by ACEEE.

As part of a comprehensive engagement plan involving no-cost, in-home energy assessments and generous customer incentives, in 2014 Mass Save launched EnergySavvy’s Optix Engage, an online energy assessment meant to educate Massachusetts residents and drive participation, while collecting a wealth of customer data. That data is stored in a flexible, cloud analytics portal enabling Mass Save to segment customers by savings potential, insulation levels, age of heating equipment, and more.

The power of customer segmentation enabled Mass Save to drive a 3.5 times higher purchase rate from a recent LED lighting campaign compared with a control group.

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In an increasingly digital world, customers expect all of their online experiences to be intuitive, engaging, and easy. Why should utilities be any different? With a self-driven energy audit to compel engagement from the state’s 2.5 million utility customers, Mass Save demonstrates how a rich set of analytics can enable customer segmentation and targeting that move the needle on driving new revenue opportunities and higher customer satisfaction.

 

Notes from the Grid Edge: Modern Measurement Can Lead to Better Programs

By: Tim Guiterman, Director of Quantify Solutions

The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) and the Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnership (NEEP) EM&V Forum both released papers in December about key trends in the energy efficiency industry, specifically related to the role of information and communication technologies (ICT), data analytics and, software-as-a-service tools for improving program performance with automated measurement.

These two well-respected organizations make it clear that transformational technology and tools have arrived that can unlock a tremendous amount of value for energy efficiency programs. Importantly, even though many of these tools are rooted in the ability to measure energy savings, their uses, and benefits, go far beyond the field of EM&V.  According to the ACEEE, “[b]y incorporating ICT into the design and management of their services, program administrators and evaluators will be able to improve the effectiveness of their actions and reduce their operating costs.”

Furthermore, as the NEEP paper states, “automated consumption data analysis can provide rapid feedback to programs whether or not this analysis is used as the final evaluated savings” [emphasis mine]. This last phrase is worth highlighting, as this topic arises repeatedly in our discussions with regulators, utilities, evaluators, and stakeholders across the country. Not every utility, state, and region is ready, willing or planning to use meter data as part of their formal evaluation regime. Whether this would be of benefit and, if so, when this should occur, is a complex and highly localized conversation occurring across the country. What is important, as ACEEE points out, is that the conversation has no impact on the value that new analytical tools provide to improve program cost-effectiveness and overall performance NOW.

These independent findings from ACEEE and NEEP confirm exactly what we are seeing in the field. Our clients are using Optix Quantify to optimize their programs in several specific ways:

One of our utility clients switched implementers during a program year. The switch was made in April, and by August, Quantify was able to show that the realization rate on projects completed after the transition improved from 44% to 89% (See Figure 1). Without Quantify, it might have been a full year or more before the utility received this information. Instead, this feedback immediately validated the investment in program implementation and enabled our client to set a new benchmark of expected performance for their implementation contractor.

Figure 1. Validating program changes and investments through metered savings

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Next, program administrators are managing contractors and trade allies with a variety of metrics, but not on the actual savings they deliver to their customers. For example, one client using Quantify discovered that the contractor with the highest volume, and highest expected savings, actually had the lowest actual performance. The savings claimed by this trade ally were simply not being realized at the customer meter (see upper left quadrant of Figure 2 below). Measuring savings at the meter and placing these findings in the hands of the program manager led to immediate corrective action. This benefited the program, the utility and the customers directly.

Figure 2. Assessing contractor performance through metered savings

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Additionally, program administrators are using automated measurement data to capture the value of remote QA/QC. This helps drive down the costs of on-site inspections and to uncover issues that compromise program cost effectiveness. One client using Quantify discovered that more than 10 percent of customers in a particular program were receiving rebates for replacing electric furnaces that never existed. Another client is seeking to significantly slash their QA/QC costs by using Quantify to identify the types of projects that most require on-site inspection.

As a final example, continuous and automated feedback on program performance allows DSM program administrators to capture best practices and identify possible savings that are “left on the table.” One of our clients running Quantify identified one of their highest volume measures was achieving well over 100% of the expected savings. This prompted a collaborative conversation with their third-party evaluator to investigate whether additional savings could be claimed from this measure to improve overall program cost effectiveness.

Our clients believe that when things are measured, they tend to improve. The NEEP and ACEEE papers make this same point: automated measurement enables a continuous program improvement cycle, one that promotes effective actions and can directly reduce operating costs.