Member Spotlight: Direct Energy

About Direct Energy
Direct Energy is one of North America’s largest retail providers of electricity, natural gas, and home and business energy-related services with over four million customers. Direct Energy gives customers choice, simplicity and innovation where energy, data and technology meet. A subsidiary of Centrica plc, an international energy and services company, Direct Energy, its subsidiaries and/or affiliates, operate in 50 U.S. states plus the District of Columbia and four provinces in Canada.

Moving from an Analog World to a Digital One
Before smart meters were deployed, homeowners would get a monthly energy bill with the cumulative monthly energy usage in kilowatt hours (kWh) and the associated dollar amount. That one detail at the end of the month was all the information you had about your energy consumption – one data point.

Unlike the older analog meters, smart meters can be read, connected and disconnected remotely. In addition, any disruption in service, like a power outage for instance, is instantly communicated to the transmission and distribution company so it can be fixed as soon as possible.

Smart meters provide energy usage data every 15 minutes, which equates to four data points per hour, 96 data points a day and about 3000 kWh data points a month. With that information, a customer can see how much energy they’re using during the month and make informed decisions about becoming more energy efficient.

Moving from one monthly analog data point to thousands or millions of digital snapshots of energy usage is a fundamental transformation, and Direct Energy is turning that digital data into unique insights that deliver value to customers.

Empowering Consumers with Data
Energy can be a mysterious commodity. Everyone uses it, yet it’s not often clear as to how monthly usage converts into a consumer’s bill total. Direct Energy has built an interactive energy insights platform called Direct Your Energy to help customers use less energy.* Direct Your Energy provides actionable, meaningful information that empowers customers and helps them reduce their electricity usage – saving money by being more efficient, smarter energy buyers.

Using residential customers’ smart meter interval data and engineering algorithms, which effectively act like a thumbprint for the energy appliances in a customer’s home, Direct Energy can now disaggregate a customer’s electricity bill by appliance. It’s a simple idea, but one where Direct Energy sees its customers engaging, learning and taking action. In fact, many users have taken the time to complete a customer profile or home score, so they can receive a more detailed breakdown of the individual elements that contribute to their bill.

A popular feature of Direct Your Energy is the ability to view past, present and future energy usage. Direct Energy uses the past month’s energy bill and, based on a customer’s current usage patterns, can predict their future bill. Customers can budget better, and make actions if they are trending higher to bring down that projected bill amount. When a customer makes those energy-efficient changes, they can observe the impact right away because of the smart meter’s continuous feedback loop.

Put Data to Work
At Direct Energy, they’re using smart meter data to develop new products and services for our customers. For example, Direct Energy now offers a Free Power 100 plan, where electricity is free every weekend from 6 p.m. on Friday to 11:59 p.m. on Sunday night, longer than any other provider in Texas.**

Customer Rewards
Direct Energy also uses the smart meter data to help customers who participate in the Reduce Your Use Rewards, a program that rewards customers for using less energy during periods of peak demand. Those rewards come in the form of savings on future energy bills. In fact, about $90,000 in bill credits were awarded back in 2016 to thank customers who reduced their use through the program. So customers who participate in the program not only save money, but they reduce their energy consumption. That helps both the environment and the electricity grid.

For more information about this SECC member, visit their website or follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

*The latest Direct Your Energy platform features are only available to postpaid and residential Texas customers with smart meters.

**Most free hours weekend electricity claim as of August 14, 2017 when compared to other retail electric providers offers listed on the website. Subject to change.

In 2017, SECC will be recognizing a member monthly, providing an organizational profile and highlighting the member’s accomplishments and output in the smart energy space. Order of recognition is random and all members will receive a spotlight.