8 February 2023

When energy guilt turns to energy smugness

Nic Rhodes
Nic Rhodes
Brand Director

In the past year, another three million householders have been able to experience “energy guilt”.

It’s what happens when you get a smart meter installed and see just how much it costs to use various appliances in your home. Having your underfloor heating on – 80p an hour. Running the dishwasher – maybe 65p per cycle. Energy guilt means we look at that number and feel compelled to do something different, either because of the cost or the carbon footprint.

Ofgem says that three million more people got smart meters in the past 12 months so some of them will be feeling that energy guilt right now.

Despite its name, energy guilt is not something to be ashamed of. It is a way of influencing your behaviour.

Most households are not able to install expensive solar panels for example but are happy to make small changes to their behaviour that can help decrease bills and contribute towards saving the planet.

This could be simple things like making sure you wash full loads of clothing, hanging clothes outside to dry when it is warm or even just switching off the lights in unoccupied rooms.

Customers can get their own monthly hit of energy guilt to help them meet their cost-saving and carbon goals through a service called My Energy.

It is a monthly report, developed by Procode, that shows energy usage in lots of different ways – the total usage in kilowatt hours, the cost, the days with the highest and lowest usage and how that compares with the previous month.

Perhaps even more interesting is the breakdown of usage by appliance type. Procode built My Energy in partnership with Voltaware and it analyses the data that comes in every ten seconds from the smart meter and allows us to slice and dice households’ energy usage. From this, we can identify the ‘fingerprint’ of different categories of appliance, such as washing machines, ovens, central heating, lights and gadgets, electric vehicles and using standby.

As well as the data you need to understand your usage, the personalised My Energy report offers advice tailored to the customer’s household.

By adopting My Energy, Procode client Utilita has been able to make the service available to all of its smart-installed customers who have a Smart Display or In-Home Display connected to the Wi-Fi. It sends out thousands of these reports every month and aims to roll out My Energy to all of its customers, bringing the experience of energy guilt to an even wider audience.

“We know that seeing usage in black and white changes behaviour and that such changes are often permanent,” says Dimitrios Stefanoglou, Commercial and Research Analyst (Utilita).

“Now, we are looking at ways to use the data collected through My Energy in ever more innovative ways, including personalised tips.

“For example, one of the first things we are looking at is to use the data to forecast when customers are expected to run out of credit on their meters and send them a message suggesting they should top up a couple of days before.

“Additionally, we are considering providing messages to customers to let them know if they are using far more electricity than normal so they can go and check whether something has been left on. If we see your fridge is using too much energy, we could send you a notification to get someone to check whether it is broken.”

At some point in the not-too-distant future, it is not too much of a stretch to think that energy guilt will be a thing of the past and that energy smugness – knowing that you are using your energy in the best way possible – will take over.