Prepay Your Energy Bill and Go Green at the Same Time
You love going green. You bring your own bags to the supermarket. You prefer natural products in recycled packaging. You are all in when it comes to doing more with less — water, laundry detergent, even shelf space in the pantry.
But while you or your friends might buy an ENERGY STAR certified TV or a hybrid car, what do you think about your local utility company?
Are they providing enough green options for you?
Probably not. According to the 2018–2019 Energy Utilities Report conducted by the American Customer Satisfaction Index, energy utilities plunged in customer satisfaction, falling 2.7 percent to an ACSI score of 73.2 (out of 100) as a result of lack of green initiatives.
So what can utility companies do to satisfy your desire to go green? (And get their customer satisfaction scores to go up?)
The answer is in two words: smart meters.
Smart meters allow utility companies to collect and measure energy usage remotely. As of December 2018, some 90 million smart meter units have been installed in the United States.
By replacing decades-old analog meters with smart meters and related technology, utility workers do not have to go on-site to read a meter. Smart meters reduce voltage variations, meter replacements, distribution network losses — and even the gas needed to fill the utility worker’s maintenance truck.
As a result, smart meters help utilities go green.
But can it help you as the customer go green?
Yes, in several ways. Read on.
Smart Meters Mean You Can Use Less Energy
What are smart meters? Smart meters support near realtime two-way communication between the meter and the utility company as well as you the consumer. In a nutshell, smart meters provide data. Data that is not only important to the utility but also important to you.
Smart meters allow you to monitor and adjust your energy usage on a regular basis. Did you notice a spike a few days ago when you hosted a party? Did you notice almost nothing when you were away for the weekend?
With access to your energy usage data, think mobile app, you can make adjustments when needed. Turn on and turn off — even for a few hours or a day — and pay less in the long run. Research has shown that when people are more aware of their energy usage and patterns they are more likely to make changes. Prepay users have been shown to use 11% less than traditionally billed customers.
Besides paying less when your energy is turned off, you — and your energy company — are going green because less energy is being wasted.
That sounds like a win-win situation.
Prepay and Going Even Greener
Smart meters can enable you to have more flexible payment options, such as prepay. Because data is connected to a customer’s account, payments can be tied more closely to energy usage. You will not only know how much electricity, water or gas you consumed, but how much you spent in terms of dollars ($) on utilities.
Your utility provider can partner with a company like Exceleron to provide you with these more flexible payment options.
Prepay billing allows you to maintain funds in reserve in an account that is used to pay for service as usage accumulates. If you wish, you can automatically replenish when funds are low.
Prepay billing brings in yet another level of going green. Gone are the days of waiting until the end of the month to pay the previous month’s bill — often with surprises. Gone are paper bills, checks, envelopes, stamps, and the delay between mailing your bill and your utility company receiving it. Also gone are the days of calling up customer service to ask if they’ve received your payment.
This entire process was highly inefficient. It required tremendous resources on the part of both the consumer and the utility. With several steps of the payment process removed, and with payments made electronically and incrementally, both parties can go even greener.
Indeed, for many consumers, it’s a brave new world of paying the utility company — a process which was in desperate need of a makeover.
Respondents to the 2018 State of the Consumer Report, conducted by the Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative showed a strong interest in smart meters and prepay billing.
Millennials appear to be even more interested than Generation X and Boomers in energy data. According to the report, more than 75 percent of millennials are interested in home energy reports.
“Our research has shown repeatedly that control over home energy usage is one of the most important values for energy consumers after monetary savings,” explains Patty Durand, President and CEO of the Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative.
Smart meters and prepay billing allow both you and your utility company to go green. They reduce waste, make homes more efficient, and help you save money.
What are you waiting for? Ask your utility provider if they offer prepay billing.
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