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Beyond Traditional Assessments: Transforming Home Efficiency with Our Self-Assessment Tool

  • Written by Mark Michalski
  • December 6, 2023
Woman on couch with mobile phone

Determining whether energy-efficient products or equipment will effectively function and deliver intended benefits in a customer’s home remains one of the most significant challenges for residential energy-efficiency programs.  

Evaluators use an Installation Service Rate (ISR) to account for the fact that not every customer installs the products they receive when participating in a kit, retail, or e-commerce program. Program planning and design teams continue to debate the best approach for getting the right products and equipment to the right customers when they need them and can benefit from them the most. Rising labor costs, increasing utility performance benchmarks, and changing customer engagement patterns have limited the impact that direct installation programs can have on residential program portfolios. It was this challenge that our team tackled through the development of a home energy self-assessment platform.   

Our Illinois Program Delivery and E-Commerce teams collaborated on a new approach for efficient product and equipment distribution and adoption that could improve the customer experience, ISRs, and program evaluation. The team conceptualized a platform to diagnose and personalize the mix of products and equipment necessary to improve home efficiency and comfort using actual customer inputs and insights about their home and its needs.

Home Energy Savings Self-Assessment 

The self-assessment platform melds a traditional virtual home energy assessment with e-commerce. The customer journey through the platform consists of the following components: 

  • Customers answer questions about their home through four dedicated modules: heating and cooling, water, lighting and electricity, and weatherization and building shell.  
  • Conditional logic prescribes lighting, weatherization items, water-saving devices, advanced power strips, smart plugs, and other similar products based on answers.  
  • Customers can opt in to receive free or discounted recommended products and equipment based on their answers and have the option of purchasing items not fully covered by program incentives. 
  • Customers can save their responses and return as often as needed to complete their assessment, reducing the impact of fatigue in completing an interactive assessment.  
  • A mobile-first design approach optimizes the platform for smartphone use, a critical aspect since over 60% of orders and transactions occur via our e-commerce platforms on mobile.   

Our team plans to market the platform to customers in Northern Illinois whose household incomes are above 80% area median income. By requiring customers to create an account and log-in, we are able to engage with them, encourage progress through the assessment, and recommend products and equipment through standalone promotions or offers.  

Initial Results and Our Roadmap for 2024 

The platform was launched in November to ComEd, Nicor Gas, Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas customers. Initial reaction has been positive with over 84% of customers opting in to participate during the first month and over a third of those customers already placing orders. 

In addition to expanding reach and access, the program team plans to incorporate more dynamic content, such as installation guides, educational videos, and other resources to help customers improve the energy efficiency of their homes.  

Our progressive approach to solving historical issues related to ISRs is a small sample of our team's commitment and capabilities in diagnosing longstanding program issues and curating offerings to proactively address them. Learn more about our innovative program solutions to program design and delivery by visiting our Utility DSM Solutions page.