Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Tendril’s data analytics system provides energy bill alerts to North American consumers

Steve Rogerson
May 12, 2015
Colorado-based energy services management company Tendril has announced it can deliver high bill alerts to any North American energy consumer. Leveraging the company’s data analytics capabilities, its proactive high bill notifications system can accurately circumvent the need for smart meter interval data on historical energy consumption to inform customers about increased energy usage and provide targeted tips for taking corrective action.
In more extreme weather – for instance during winter and summer months – the cost of heating and cooling will increase yet the customer lacks insight into how weather changes impact their bill. Due to the extreme weather, often their bill ends up being higher than expected, even though the customer’s behaviour hasn’t changed. As a result, a surprised and frustrated customer resorts to calling the utility to try to get answers as to why their bill is so high.
According to Gartner, 63 per cent of calls utilities receive are bill related and each call costs about $8.50 to service. As Tendril’s system prompts customers to engage and reduce their power usage, utilities in return save on customer service resources, as they can reduce call volumes by an estimated eight to eleven per cent. Utility customers benefit by better understanding usage drivers and by receiving personalised recommendations to reduce usage before it’s too late to make an impact on their bill.
“Today’s energy consumers demand providers that know who they are on an individual basis and provide relevant information and services,” said Chris Black, chief technical officer at Tendril. “Up until now, utilities wanting to provide highly accurate alerting to their customers had to make a significant investment in smart meter technology. With our unique capability to provide individualised insights and recommendations without smart meter data, Tendril can bring personalised proactive notifications to all energy consumers.”
With the system, customers can receive a notification partway through their billing cycle if their bill is expected to be higher based on their normal usage patterns. The notifications – delivered through text, email or an engagement portal depending on customer preference – show customers their usage to date and what their projected bill amount will be if no course-correction is taken. The notifications also invite users to try interactive tools within their engagement portal that can help them figure out how to reduce energy expenses immediately and for future similar scenarios. If costs climb due to other factors outside of weather, at the end of the month the utility can prompt customers to answer questions about other potential changes in their home and guide them on a different set of energy-saving actions accordingly.
The building model uses a range of data, including demographic, local weather and other third party information on home location and architecture, to create energy intelligence that helps utilities deliver the personalised, proactive messages that consumers require. In addition to increasing engagement, it further benefits the utility by decreasing customer call volumes and increasing satisfaction.