Big Data

Opower embraces big data to lower your utility bill

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You want to save money. Utilities want you to conserve energy. Middle-man Opower thinks it can satisfy everyone with a brand-new platform designed to get people excited, yes excited, about energy conservation.

Opower currently works with 75 utility partners to provide 15 million homes with tools and resources to reduce their energy consumption rates. Monday, the startup launched Opower 4, a customer engagement platform that taps data from more than 50 million homes to scientifically encourage consumers to develop deeper, mutually beneficial relationships with their utility providers.

Opower 4 is an all-new, big data-powered piece of software that utility companies can deploy to help customers proactively manage their energy usage.

“It’s about applying analytic calculations at scale for an integrated experience,” Opower chief marketing officer Roderick Morris told VentureBeat. “[Opower 4] gives people the opportunity to change their behavior and feel like they’re in control.”

The platform tracks a customer’s behavior to provide timely energy usage alerts (text messages, mobile notifications, or emails), analyzes aggregate data on meter reads to send folks personalized tips for reducing energy consumption, and integrates with the Honeywell thermostat for even more granular home energy control.

The platform also comes with a souped-up web experience, and incorporates the Opower Facebook application for energy conservation through peer pressure.

“Typically, utilities have thought about customers as rate payers, and we’ve thought of utilities as just a bill,” Morris said. “A lot of what Opower has been about is using our data platform to engage customers and actually earn the right for utilities to have a conservation. When you earn that right, you get a lot of different impacts.”

The impacts, he said, are energy savings for consumers and a measurable reduction in peak energy load for utility providers. Consumers using Opower see, on average, 2.5 to 3.5 percent more energy savings over their non-Opower counterparts, Morris said.

Five-year-old Opower has raised more than $65 million in funding in date. The company claims to invest $25 million annually in research and development.

Photo credit: Ev0luti0nary/Flickr


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