Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Time-of-use billing produces more satisfied customers -- report

The study from Parks Associates found 53 percent of respondents who get electricity bills and receive free power during nights or weekends were "very" satisfied with their plans. Forty-eight percent of those who see rewards for reducing energy at certain times also reported being very satisfied, as did 40 percent of people who have time-of-day pricing.

Thirty-four percent of households not in those sorts of plans described themselves as very satisfied, according to the report. It makes sense that people who are choosing a time-of-use plan may be more engaged in their electricity billing, said Tom Kerber, director of energy and home controls research at Parks Associates.

"I can understand how that involvement -- the fact that you've been engaged and that you are making a choice -- would lead to higher satisfaction," Kerber said in an interview.

Parks Associates, which is based in Dallas and conducts consumer energy research, touted the report in conjunction with the 2014 Smart Energy Summit that's being held this week in Austin, Texas. In all, 37 percent of broadband households were labeled as highly satisfied with their electricity plan in the fourth quarter of 2013, compared with 31 percent a year earlier, presentation materials showed.

Eighteen percent of households said they had a time-of-day pricing plan, while 6 percent reported rewards for reducing energy at select times and 2 percent said they had free power at night or on weekends, according to a survey of those who get electricity bills. Average monthly electricity bills were higher for people on such plans.

Kerber said power companies can encourage people to switch to time-of-use products by reducing customers' risks through trial periods or incentives. People who have a higher power bill might be more likely to be engaged and seek alternatives to reduce costs, he said.

The number of broadband households that said they live in a place that allows choices and changes among companies for electric service totaled 26 percent in the fourth quarter, the Parks Associates survey showed. Still, most eligible customers said they hadn't switched providers, with young consumers -- those under 35 -- more likely to change companies.

When broadband households were asked about actions to cut household energy use or costs in the past 12 months, no action was the top choice at 16 percent. But a variety of other decisions followed, including 12 percent each for protecting sun-facing windows from heat and increasing insulation. Other reported actions included planting trees to provide shade, repairing ductwork and moving to a smaller place.

Five percent of users said they switched in that period to a time-of-use power plan.

In a news release, Kerber said customers who changed to time-of-use plans and adapted to using power during off-peak periods may see lower bills.

"The connected home is changing the consumer relationship to all home services, including energy, security, and controls," Kerber said in the release.

From the article, "Time-of-use billing produces more satisfied customers -- report" by Edward Klump.

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