The S-Curve Indicator: Week of March 11, 2013

This week’s indicator is 67 billion kilowatthours, which is the difference between summer and winter residential electricity demand, according to the Energy Information Agency. This “peak” is more than twice as large as the seasonal peaks for commercial customers, and nearly four times as large for industrial customers. These findings show the critical need for demand response programs targeted at residential customers, a space where vendors are beginning to offer more sophisticated solutions.

Electric-powered air conditioners are by far the biggest contributor to peak demand, so direct load control of HVAC systems is a key priority. So far, the results for utilities in direct load control have been mixed. According to E-Source, the average participation rate in residential programs is only 12%. Faced with these low participation rates, vendors are doubling down on outreach to the residential market. Smart thermostat provider Honeywell and energy efficiency giant Opower recently announced that they will team up to provide a user-friendly, integrated energy platform for both demand response and energy efficiency. On the other side of the meter, Aclara’s ENERGYprism platform helps utilities identify customers who are most likely to have a significant impact through demand response programs. The trend towards more informed customer targeting, messaging, and engagement is likely just getting started.


This is an entry in our series, The S-Curve Indicator, where we highlight a number that’s impacting the world of sustainability.