The Art of Building Sustainable Ecosystem: A Smart Guide to Responsible Consumption

Harish Raju
Published: May 29, 2024
5 min read

Sustainability is one of the most significant challenges facing utilities today. With the growing demand for essential resources and the pressing need to combat carbon footprint and water scarcity, immediate action is the need of the hour.

Almost two-thirds of the global population experiences a water shortage for at least a month each year. This is not a distant problem but a pressing issue affecting us all. Faulty industry equipment, outdated home appliances, and a lack of awareness of responsible consumption only add to the energy and water loss.

However, the solution to these challenges lies in the utilities themselves – Consumer Empowerment! Utilities are in a unique position to connect with every individual across the planet. To build a sustainable ecosystem, utilities must place consumers at the center of this revolution. The change starts with small, everyday habits – habits of consuming energy and water responsibly. When adopted collectively, these habits can make a significant impact.

Call for Action – Utilities Need to Pave the Sustainable Way

While the world urgently needs to act against climate change and depleting resources, the role of utilities is pivotal in driving these sustainable habits. Being closest to customers, they have the power and resources to deliver a significant impact. As an avid contributor to this industry, I believe this can be achieved by empowering end-consumers with education and awareness, personalized insights, data-driven savings programs, and smart technologies. These tools and platforms can drive sustainability and responsible consumption—or, in other words, equipping them with Ways to Save!

But how? Finding Ways to Save, A Smart Guide

Tracking energy and water loss has traditionally been manual and complex due to a lack of consumer consumption insights —until now! Leveraging digital platforms equipped to harness emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, eMobility management, Distributed Energy Resources (DERs), intelligent appliances, and disaggregation can help utilities transform present-day consumers into next-generation energy and water prosumers. Let’s explore these technologies in detail:

  • Equipping Consumers with Disaggregation for Powerful Insights
    Energy and Water disaggregation is a powerful tool that collects usage data at the appliance level. By harnessing the power of AI/ML, disaggregation algorithms can identify energy loss due to heating or faults, as well as water leakage. This level of transparency provides consumers with accurate insights into their energy and water usage, helps utilities craft impactful energy and water-saving programs, delivers a data-driven customer experience, promotes responsible consumption, and proactively detects wastage.

  • Smart eMobility for Smarter Lifestyle
    eMobility is the future of transportation. However, it goes beyond just the means of travel. Did you know electric vehicles can potentially solve grid resilience issues and power homes or buildings? eMobility as a vehicle-to-grid (V2G) and energy storage system (ESS) platform enables consumers to become prosumers. With seamless charging management, usage tracking, DER integration, and demand response integration, utilities can empower consumers to adopt EVs as part of a lifestyle transition and inculcate responsible consumption habits. Utilities must leverage the eMobility revolution to achieve their clean energy transition goals, build grid resiliency, and become a trusted ally for consumers during this drastic transformation.

  • Crafting Smart and Efficient Demand Response and Rebate Programs
    Crafting and delivering demand response programs and lucrative rebate programs has never been easier, all thanks to artificial intelligence. By leveraging AI, utilities can create personalized demand response programs, provide off-peak energy rates (cheaper than peak time), or offer financial incentives for reduced consumption. This ultimately helps utilities enable grid stability, optimize energy transfer, and build an aware and empowered customer base.

  • Promoting Distributed Energy Resources (DERs) Adoption
    Distributed Energy Resources (DERs), such as rooftop solar and energy storage systems, are emerging as clean alternatives to the traditional fossil-fuel-powered energy grid. While not yet a complete replacement for the grid, these renewable energy resources can effectively reduce reliance on high-carbon energy sources. With rapid developments in solar panels and battery technology, these resources are becoming cheaper and more affordable. DER adoption can help utilities build a cleaner ecosystem, reduce direct energy consumption from the grid, and empower users with lower energy bills and sustainable living.

  • Leveraging Marketplace to Deliver Smart Homes
    Digital marketplaces are frequent touchpoints for consumers. Utilities must harness the power of this e-commerce model to provide customers with personalized recommendations for smart appliances that drive energy and water efficiency and foster a resource-conscious lifestyle. These marketplaces can ultimately elevate utilities’ efforts to foster a connected ecosystem and serve as an additional revenue stream.

  • Multichannel Engagement and Education
    An Aware Consumer is a Happy Consumer.’ With the rise of digital communication, it has become easier for utilities to keep their customers informed. Leveraging digital communications has proven effective in communicating new savings programs or awareness campaigns, resulting in more informed customers with an increased consciousness to save. This multichannel engagement strategy helps utilities reach out to consumers via their preferred communication channels, enabling convenience and building trust.

  • Delivering a Smart Personal Assistant
    24 x 7 personalization services have become more accessible with the evolution of AI-powered chatbots and analytics. When combined with personalized data for individual customers, these chatbots can deliver real-time energy and water savings recommendations, utility-developed programs, and proactive reminders, fostering a sense of urgency to save energy, water, and money.

  • Tying it up All Together with a Vertical AI-powered Smart Platform
    While these technologies are promising and significantly help optimize energy and water consumption, leveraging them to promote energy efficiency and water conservation requires a smart and integrated customer experience platform. These AI-powered platforms can utilize technologies such as DERs, eMobility integration, and Disaggregation algorithms to deliver proactive alerts and insights to consumers. By bringing everything together under a single unified solution, they provide a connected experience and help orchestrate a harmonious flow of operations, enhance customer experience, and maintain an undisrupted energy and water ecosystem.

Charity Begins at Home

In today's world, fostering responsible energy and water consumption has become essential for building a sustainable future. Equipping both utility providers and customers with data-driven, AI-powered connected platforms can pave the way for more efficient resource usage. These digital platforms can offer integrated capabilities such as disaggregation, eMobility, personalized communication, demand response, customized rate plans, usage comparisons, rebates and programs, and transparent insights. By leveraging these platforms, utilities can build solid customer partnerships with customers to drive energy and water efficiency.

Navigating the challenges of energy and water conservation requires tailored solutions. This guide aims to provide utilities with the most effective strategies to promote energy efficiency and help customers adopt ways to save! Let’s take this step together to promote responsible consumption and build a sustainable tomorrow for all.

We at SEW believe in empowering consumers and helping utilities promote responsible consumption! SEW’s Energy Efficiency Platform, powered by SmartCX Platform and vertical AI, offers customers the latest technology, including disaggregation, a marketplace for smart appliances, personalized conservation programs, rebates, incentives, saving tips, demand response, usage tracking, multichannel communication, a personalized chatbot, and more. Let’s encourage and empower customers to become energy-water conscious and cultivate saving habits to foster a sustainable and efficient future. Contact us to know more!

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Harish Raju
Chief Product Solution Officer

Harish is an experienced Chief Product Solutions Officer with 18+ years of leadership in technology-driven organizations. He is passionate about leveraging AI/ML, driving digital transformation, and delivering innovative products through end-to-end product lifecycle, from ideation to launch. He has been instrumental in delivering innovative SEW product solutions at the Top 50 utilities in North America and across the Globe.

He leads and manages the global SEW product and solutions group, which is responsible for driving product management and development of the #1 AI/ML-powered vertically integrated industry cloud platform. This platform serves 400+ business clients across 30+ countries and impacts over 1 billion citizens worldwide.

He is a utility industry thought leader in Customer Experience, Energy Transition, Grid Edge Intelligence, Emobility, NetZero, AMI, Workforce Management, ESG, and DERMS. He is also an expert in SaaS and AI / ML. He has been a presenter and panelist at various industry conferences, including Distributech and CS Week.

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