My Energy Xpert: a home and small business energy management solution by energyX Solutions
My Energy Xpert is a SMART energy audit and monitoring app empowering people to save time, money and lower their energy footprint.
At energyX, our motto is ‘energy management for all’ and we envision a world where every home and business has the ability to implement an energy savings program that is relevant and customized to their building and behavioral profile.
Conventionally, creating a building specific energy savings program starts with an energy scan that involves expensive engineers and costs more than one year of potential energy savings. The result is that homes and small businesses are effectively excluded from identifying large scale conservation actions. This leaves a significant portion of energy savings on the table as residences and small business account for approximately 40% of all electricity consumption in North America (EIA, 2016).
This is why we developed our flagship product, My EnergyXpert, a novel building energy scan that is simple enough for anyone to complete in 15 minutes. Our unique technology combines technical, quantitative data with simple qualitative input resulting in a new kind of energy scan that is 800% faster than conventional energy audits at 1/10th of the price. On average, our scan identifies improvements capable of saving 25% of current energy consumption for the consumer; with an average of 70% of recommendations resulting in actual building retrofits.
Like conventional energy scans, My EnergyXpert informs consumers on a comprehensive range of energy efficiency solutions by providing customized recommendations along with accurate predictions of the costs involved and the achievable savings. Unlike conventional scans, our platform links with contractors, marketplaces, and subsidy programs to facilitate and implement our recommended building retrofits.
My EnergyXpert is a springboard to small building energy efficiency with the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 10% across North America.
Category of the action
Reducing emissions from electric power sector.
What actions do you propose?
We have a vision in which home and business inhabitants will play a vital role in the energy and resource management systems of the future. Individuals and communities will intelligently manage their own energy needs, energy production will be decentralized, and a diverse range of low or zero carbon sources will be abundant. Utility services, such as water and waste management, will be under the oversight and control of building inhabitants and local communities. Conservation and sustainable resource management will balance environmental impact. Building performance will be tailored to the usage patterns and lifestyles of the building inhabitants with full oversight of their critical building systems.
We believe that we are in the middle of global transition in terms of building performance, and we see that people are at the center of this transition. In order to make our vision a reality, we recognize the need to engage and empower others in creating the solutions that will take us into the next generation of buildings.
Residences and small businesses account for nearly 50% (EIA, 2015) of all buildings and 40% of all electricity consumption in North America (EIA, 2016). By addressing the residential and small business markets we fill a service gap in energy efficiency services, which have largely professionalized around serving the more lucrative large commercial and industrial markets. In addition, we engage 50% of the building market in creating a more sustainable energy future.
What we are currently seeing in the market today is that the price points of the current building energy scans and audits simply don’t make sense for the average consumer given their potential energy savings. Consumers that do move forward with building scans are confronted with highly technical reports that do not provide an easily understandable direction of exactly how improvements should be made. As a result, gains in small building efficiency are found mostly in new-built construction while the existing building stock remains a sink of energy consumption. This is in spite of the recognition that dollars spent on energy efficiency pay-out 2 to 1 compared to dollars spent on new construction. Neglecting inefficient building stock costs society money and damages the environment. It’s time we changed that by designing new services that specifically address the needs of small buildings and engage the people who live and work in them (which is pretty much everyone)!
We have developed a digital energy scan for homes and small medium businesses called My EnergyXpert that can provide actionable results in 15 minutes. My EnergyXpert is simple and customer centric enough for a building inhabitant to complete unassisted, and provides detailed results that are as accurate as engineering scans costing ten times as much. We use the Internet of Things coupled with a proprietary algorithm, cloud computing and machine learning to predict the improvements that will save consumers the most on their current energy bills through systemic building improvements. Through gamificiation consumers are able to compare their saving potential and results with their community and networks thereby leading to mass appeal and integration.
Through our unique approach we combine quantitative data points, such as energy consumption from utility bills or smart metering, with qualitative data points entered by the building inhabitant regarding usage patterns, preferences and intentions. This is a crucial part of generating results that are not only accurate, but also relevant to the consumer. It marks the beginning of the engagement process that ultimately pulls consumers to make both behavioral changes and structural building modifications to realize their building’s full savings potential. My EnergyXpert bridges the gap between energy savings and behavioral changes.
By aggregating information from a range of potential sources and asking building inhabitants a series of simple questions, we are able to provide an optimized prediction of energy reduction potential. This results in a clear and actionable plan that anyone can create completely on their own from the comfort of their home or business. Moreover, our plans are customized and tailored for renters and tenants (where the focus is on low hanging, ROI focused retrofits) as well as for owners and landlords (where the focus is on capital intensive, high value added retrofits). Our platform can also act as a mechanism for tenants to motivate and incentivize their landlords to implement these recommended capital intensive retrofits. This allows us to be relevant to the entire market.
What truly makes My EnergyXpert novel is that the data generated by completing the scan and creating a customized building energy savings program can be fed directly into channels that will assist the consumer in taking action. My EnergyXpert is provided to the end-consumers via a channel partner that is frequently a utility or energy retailer. This allows building energy savings programs to be integrated with installation and subsidy options already available through the energy supplier. To compliment this channel, energyX creates additional relationships with local vendors, contractors, and financiers to ensure that consumers are not left stranded with a savings program and no path forward to execution of that plan.
In general, we propose the following actions:
1) Roll out of our simple and automated online energy management platform to as many residences and small businesses as possible within North America and globally.
2) This roll out will be accomplished by working closing with existing stakeholders and channel partners such as energy utilities, retailers and municipalities.
To accomplish a roll out on such massive scale, we are licensing My EnergyXpert to utilities and retailers as a Software as a Service (SaaS) enterprise software solution and empowering them to white label, customize and deploy My EnergyXpert to communities as a turn-key sustainability program. This gives consumers (e.g. households and small businesses) access to building energy audits, energy monitoring services, and other resources needed to take action and reduce building energy consumption.
My EnergyXpert will form the basis of a sustainable energy platform that can be executed by utilities and energy retailers while providing consumers with full control over their energy usage by creating a customized energy efficiency plan. We will also provide utilities with anonymized data that can be used to create effective subsidies, test and deploy new products, and even target infrastructure improvements.
All of the above actions are in line with our mission to mainstream smart building improvements for the residential and small medium business market by creating technology that people can use to manage and control their building’s energy, utility services, and overall performance.
The first step in this process involves helping people to understand the improvement potential in their building and this is exactly where My EnergyXpert excels. My EnergyXpert provides accurate improvement advice and allows individuals to create their own improvement plan. It does this in an average of 15 minutes for less than 1/10th the cost of conventional energy scans and audits currently available. Best of all, anyone can access our application from the privacy of their own home or business and complete the scan on their own. Simply put, we take away all of the factors that typically deter action during the first critical steps toward building energy efficiency.
Residential and business customers using My EnergyXpert take the following 5 steps as part of their user experience:
1) Completing the My EnergyXpert building scan
The consumer accesses the My EnergyXpert application online and answers a series of questions relating to their energy usage patterns, behavioural preferences and details around smart devices, lighting, appliances, heating, cooling, insulation and solar. The scan is designed to take no longer than 15 mins to complete; keeping our three guiding principles in mind: simplicity, accuracy and customer-centricity. We keep the user interface as simple as possible by importing any available technical and quantitative such as: utility bill data, weather data, building/property information from municipal databases, data feeds from existing smart devices, etc. We maintain high accuracy through a powerful algorithm based on standard building analysis calculations. We remain focused on the customer by working closely with our channel partners to customize the interface for each market we engage.
2) Immediate calculations of results
Using the imported quantitative data in combination with consumer-input qualitative information we create a building profile. This building profile allows the My EnergyXpert application to select building improvements that will benefit the consumer and then calculate the potential energy savings and costs of implementing the improvement. All of the potential improvements are then displayed for the consumer along with a number of other factors, such as carbon offset and/or return on investment, so that the consumer gains a holistic view of their buildings energy management potential.
3) Creating a customized building energy savings plan
The consumer will have the transparency to select the improvements that are the most relevant to them based on costs, payback, ROI and/or CO2 reductions. They are also given the flexibility to enter the budget they have allocated for energy efficiency measures, and based on this budget, our calculation engine will indicate the most feasible energy savings plan.
The energy savings plan automatically segments the retrofits into two categories. The first category includes simpler upgrades that are particularly suitable for tenants (low hanging fruits such as LED lighting measures which do not require large capital expenditures). The second category consists of more in-depth improvements that are more interesting for owners and landlords because they require larger capital expenditures (such as HVAC systems, insulation, and solar systems). By providing both categories, we can engage a wide range of consumers and keep them "sticky" to our program through new improvement opportunities.
4) Selecting a plan and taking the next steps
Once the consumer has accepted the plan, they will be able to automatically schedule the installations and select from payment / financing options. Depending on the channel partner that is delivering My EnergyXpert, there may be additional options available for the consumer such as participation in subsidy programs, e-commerce platforms for streamlined purchasing, and energy label certification.
5) Monitoring and follow-up
The final step is the on-going review of energy consumption via real time monitoring. This step validates the impact of completed installations and identifies behavioral issues that can drive further cost reductions. The consumer is provided with a monitoring dashboard that allows them to proactively review the energy they are saving over time as a result of the structural retrofits that have been implemented. Combined with a change in consumer behavior, annual energy savings are typically in the range of 25%.
In summary, our solution provides:
+ A scan so simple anyone can complete it in 15 minutes using gamification and social sharing functionality
+ Results that are within 10% of the accuracy of conventional engineering scans
+ Customer acquisition and lead generation for other high value services
+ An on-boarding and up selling tool for product installations
+ Improved customer retention through valuable and relevant data insights via monitoring services/solutions
+ Consumer engagement and stickiness
+ Consumption and building data and business intelligence for energy suppliers
Who will take these actions?
The objective of My EnergyXpert is to ensure that the consumer takes action and implements the improvements that lead to greater energy efficiency. Because the My EnergyXpert interface is so simple and intuitive, it does not require a highly trained individual, such as an engineer, to complete.
We recognize the role that trust plays in consumer energy management, so we prefer to work through existing partners (i.e. utilities and energy retailers) that already have relationships with consumer and can assist with the complex task of rolling out My EnergyXpert at scale through the following channels:
+ Online customer portals, websites and email campaigns.
+ Call center reps that engage consumers to complete the energy audit over the phone
+ ‘Walk through energy audits’ provided using door to door sales reps and students. One of our channel partners, Efficiency Capital Corp, is currently recruiting and incentivizing student to conduct energy audits of multi-residential and small commercial building in their neighbourhoods and communities in the Greater Toronto Area using our My EnergyXpert platform.
We are also raising awareness through direct marketing campaigns such as flyers included with energy bill mailings and advertising through prominent industry publications.
Ultimately, home and business consumers will use My EnergyXpert to complete the scan of their own building. They will do the scan by themselves given My EnergyXpert’s customer centric design or via a trained person (from the utility or retailer) who arrives at the building and completes the application with the consumer as a walk-through building audit.
We are also in the process of partnering with a number of service organizations that include contractors, energy monitoring companies, property developers and even financing providers. The objective is to create a network of providers that are capable of taking consumers through the entire retrofit process in a way that is seamless, simple, and transparent.
Where will these actions be taken?
We’re starting in Toronto where there is an existing supply of aging small building stock, and a political, social and economic climate ripe for sustainable change as per the recently released Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan. Talks are also underway with clients across deregulated markets such as Alberta, Texas, California, New York, Illinois, and the United Kingdom.
The timing for market entry of a simple, accurate, online building energy efficiency solution in the North American market is ideal. Our solution is so scalable that it is easily adapted for buildings in a wide range of markets including Europe and Asia.
Particularly in our home of Ontario, Canada, province-wide energy conservation and demand management requirements, such as those enforced by the IESO, have created a mandate for energy efficiency solutions. Available incentives for homes and businesses create an additional appetite for pragmatic and easily accessible solutions.
As in most other markets, utility and energy retail companies in Ontario are tasked with rolling out conservation programs and are held accountable by local, provincial, and federal agencies. Unfortunately, the average utility company is underprepared to take on such programs because their resources are largely consumed with delivering energy and maintaining the associated infrastructure. All the while, energy prices are strictly regulated keeping marginality razor thin. This combination of constraints places utility companies in a difficult position. In effect, they are caught by a mandate to act on conservation initiatives without the competencies or resources to effectively deliver such programs at scale.
Anywhere that utility companies struggle to serve their customers with energy management and conservation services and energy retailers struggle to keep their customers sticky and loyal, our solution can make an impact with homes and small business. We see truly global potential.
How much will emissions be reduced or sequestered vs. business as usual levels?
My EnergyXpert allows people to easily identify and implement improvements that can lower energy consumption by an average of 25%. Given that homes and small businesses account for 40% of all electricity consumption in North America, this represents the potential to lower total energy consumption in North America by 10% (EIA, 2016). Carbon intensive sources account for approximately 90% of energy production (USDOE, 2009); therefore, lowered building energy consumption results in a prolonged reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
My EnergyXpert focuses structural as well as behavioral changes for renters/tenants and landlords/owners and hence is able to be relevant to the entire market and move people towards taking action. The structural improvements suggested, such as LED lighting retrofits, HVAC modifications, and energy efficient appliances, are effective for the lifetime of the equipment involved, often 20 years or more, and result in a long term impact on climate change.
What are other key benefits?
Key benefits include:
- Consumers are offered accurate, affordable and trusted energy advice, and My EnergyXpert acts as a valuable onboarding tool for conventional energy advisors.
-Our program streamlines retrofits in small buildings, and installation contractors can benefit from significantly reduced marketing and selling costs and increased customer volume.
-Building service providers can benefit from enhanced upselling of energy management services and building data services.
-We systematically reduce energy consumption, and offer consumer engagement, stickiness, and retention to energy retailers that reduces their customer churn. Moreover utilities are able to meet their conservation demand targets by enabling their customer base to implement the relevant retrofits that will lower building energy consumption.
-All of our channel partners are provided new revenue channels and collaboration opportunities through the upselling of high value products and services through our platform.
What are the proposal’s costs?
We have secured investors and devoted resources to launch My EnergyXpert. It is currently being licensed as a Software as a Service enterprise solution to channel partners across North America.
We divide the implementation costs into three parts: one-time customization fees, software as a service licensing, and a variable per consumer fee for each completed energy scan using our platform. The end result is a turn-key energy audit and monitoring solution for our partners at a total cost of around $50 per consumer.
At this price point, My EnergyXpert costs a mere 10% compared to conventional energy audits.
While the software licensing and fixed cost per scan covers IT operations costs such as hosting, maintenance, and upgrades , the customization fee is a one-time cost incurred by our channel partners to make business-value modifications to the look and feel of the platform. As development progresses, the cost to customize the platform will reduce as the underlying architecture is further developed to allow for most modifications to be completed without coding. This will result in a reduction of customization costs of approx. 50%. Economies of scale in IT operations and the cost to serve an individual customer are expected to kick in at approximately 100,000 end users which would further decrease these costs as well.
As user-ship increases, we fully expect costs to continue to decline – particularly if we are able to take a pure mass-market, direct to consumer approach to sales. In a high volume mass-market approach, operating costs could be offset through a commission on implementation referrals to contractors or advertising. In the short term, we expect the approx. cost of $50 per scan to drop to $25 per scan over the next 2 years. Depending on uptake, costs will continue to decline over the next 5 years with the goal being a true embodiment of our motto: a scan that is free of charge to the end-user - energy management for all!
Setup and program lead times of My EnergyXpert with a channel partner typically take two to three months depending on the level of customization required. With no customization to the current platform, lead times can be as short one month. Once launched, the My EnergyXpert platform is operational and accessible online for consumers immediately. All ongoing maintenance and upgrades are handled by us and platform uptime is generally higher than 99%.
Consumers (homes and businesses) can generate meaningful results through My EnergyXpert in as little as 5 minutes; although most consumers spend approximately 15 minutes in the application. A holistic building improvement plan generated through My EnergyXpert typically takes around three months to fully implement; although, this timeline varies significantly depending on the project scope, budget, and other individual factors such as if the consumer is a tenant/renter or an owner/landlord. In general, consumers are free to take action as quickly as they like with timelines ranging from a matter of days to a year or more.
Program progress, aggregated data and analysis are available to our channel partners from day one; with formal updates and analysis typically occurring at least once per month. The total timeframe for a My EnergyXpert partner license can range anywhere from three to six months for a pilot project to up to three years for a full program license.
USDOE (US Dept. of Energy), "U.S. Primary Energy Consumption by Source and Sector, 2008" (2009) Retrieved from:http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/aer/pdf/pecss_diagram.pdf
EIA (U.S. Energy Information Administration. A Look at the U.S. Commercial Building Stock: Results from EIA's 2012 Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS). Release date: March 4, 2015. Retrieved from: https://www.eia.gov/consumption/commercial/reports/2012/buildstock/
EIA (U.S. Energy Information Administration). “Electric Power Annual”. Release date: February 16, 2016. Retrieved from:http://www.eia.gov/electricity/annual
energyX Solutions. 2016.www.energyXsolutions.com
Suggested reading and general reference
Levine, M., D. Ürge-Vorsatz, K. Blok, L. Geng, D. Harvey, S. Lang, G. Levermore, A. Mongameli Mehlwana, S. Mirasgedis, A. Novikova, J. Rilling, H. Yoshino, 2007: Residential and commercial buildings. In Climate Change 2007: Mitigation. Contribution of Working Group III to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [B. Metz, O.R. Davidson, P.R. Bosch, R. Dave, L.A. Meyer (eds)], Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA.