The ComEd Efficient Choice online shopping platform powered by Enervee —piloted by ComEd’s Emerging Technology team in 2020/2021— proved its ability to drive energy efficient purchases without the need for rebates. This is a key takeaway from an independent evaluation conducted by Guidehouse.
According to ComEd, “As a result of the evaluated savings, high customer satisfaction, and customer education benefits of this pilot, the Efficient Choice platform has been approved as an offering in the ComEd Energy Efficiency Program for 2022 and beyond” .
More importantly for demand-side management leaders, ComEd is able to claim the resulting 2021 energy savings — which are savings that were achieved by eliminating longstanding market, cognitive and psychological barriers — without reliance on incentives.
For those who want to dig deeper than the headlines, read on for information about the pilot and evaluation results, including the customer value proposition.
OnlineChoice Engine Model Pilot
This project tested the evaluable energy savings impact associated with the Enervee platform, featuring Choice Engine technology (under the consumer-facing name “ComEd Efficient Choice”), and its potential fit for the ComEd Energy Efficiency Program — specifically the ability to drive claimable portfolio savings without the use of typical appliance rebates.
ComEd Efficient Choice relied on Enervee’s Choice Engine, which was designed with behavioral science insights in mind to make it simple and compelling for customers to choose and buy more efficient products. Impactful Choice Engine features include the Enervee Score (our relative energy efficiency ranking), built-in product comparison tool, personalized lifetime cost of ownership estimates, customer reviews and links to retailers to make a purchase.
The pilot operated for ten months and focused on three product categories: refrigerators, clothes washers and clothes dryers. All marketing was digital and included the following channels/tactics:
- Display ads to target in-market shoppers with educational content and attract them to ComEd Efficient Choice. Specifically, we used a “True or False?” campaign to attract attention and address common myths. The ads directed shoppers to a relevant product category landing page, which provided information on how to compare efficient and inefficient products.
- Paid search promotions tied to major shopping periods.
- Email was used for both promotions and to deliver educational content. Our “identify” emails engaged readers in a short survey that asked whether they were in the market to buy any of the targeted categories. Customer responses helped build an audience for targeted drip email campaigns. Similarly, the promotional emails drove category engagement, which our business intelligence system tracks.
- Targeted drip email campaigns. A key element of Enervee’s marketing efforts were the data-informed drip email campaigns (based on the educational email survey responses and promotional email online engagement data), which encouraged known in-market shoppers to engage with features of our platform throughout the course of their shopping journey, from research, to choice and ultimately purchase.
The pilot demonstrated the effectiveness of Enervee’s Choice Engine platform in helping ComEd customers buy efficient products without utility rebates.
Impact assessment methods and results
Guidehouse relied on two primary data sources to estimate program savings:
- A survey-based method to determine key shopping conversion factors, including purchase rate, efficiency rate and net-to-gross ratio;
- ComEd Efficient Choice platform analytics data to quantify the number of unique active shoppers — defined as visitors that took one or more specified actions on the site, indicative of someone actively in the market to buy (such as clicking on the “Buy” button) — participating in the program.
The evaluation team was able to achieve the confidence/relative precision design targets of 90/25 at the pilot level, and90/40 at the measure level for verified gross savings.
So how much did the program actually save? Guidehouse estimated total annual savings by applying average conversion factors for the three pilot categories (refrigerators, washers, dryers) to the categories available on the site and extrapolating from the data for the ten months of pilot operation to a full year (Table 1).
Table 1. Annualized Savings by Category
This resulted in a total of nearly 47,000 ComEd customers actively shopping on the site (Annualized Customer Population), meaning they didn’t just visit the landing page; they took one or more actions indicative of someone actually shopping for an appliance. Based on the share of surveyed customers who actually made a purchase (Purchase Rate), these ComEd customers bought an estimated 3,920 products.
These purchases will save 509 MWh of electricity, on a net basis, after accounting for free ridership. Table 1 shows much higher activity for the three pilot target categories, and savings can be scaled significantly over time, with greater marketing effort spanning more categories.
For the purposes of pilot savings claims, Guidehouse also undertook a cross-participation analysis. Measures that overlap between ComEd Efficient Choice and ComEd’s Appliance Rebate Program include the three pilot target categories, as well as air purifiers, dehumidifiers and freezers. Because of the pilot nature of this effort, it was not possible to tease out the interplay between ComEd Efficient Choice and the rebate program, so for the purpose of filing savings claims, all savings for rebated products will be claimed by the rebate program.
86% of ComEd customers have a better opinion of their energy provider as a result of using ComEd Efficient Choice
Guidehouse conducted a customer experience survey in addition to its savings claims evaluation, and ComEd Efficient Choice received exceptionally high marks.
- ComEd customers were highly satisfied with the platform, with an average score of 8.6 on the following question: "Using a scale from 0 to 10, where 0 means ‘Not at all satisfied’ and 10 means ‘Extremely satisfied,’ how satisfied are you with your experience with the ComEd Efficient Choice website?"
- Customers ended up with a more favorable opinion of ComEd overall, with an average score of 8.0 on the following question: How has your experience with the ComEd Efficient Choice website impacted your opinion with ComEd? Please use a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 being ‘Significantly decreased’ favorability with ComEd and 10 being ‘Significantly increased’ favorability with ComEd.
Survey responses also underscored the platform’s usefulness to ComEd customers, as indicated in Table 2, which provides the average score on a zero to 10 scale on three consumer value metrics:
Table 2. Usefulness Factors
Quicker, easier and more energy efficient purchases for ComEd customers. A successful pilot now moves into full program status in 2022!