Nest: February 2017 Featured Member of the Month

“Over the last several years, smart thermostats have opened up new opportunities for residential Demand Response programs, helping to achieve load management goals at reduced cost, while bringing additional benefits such as energy efficiency and improved customer satisfaction. Having worked with a diverse set of energy partners, Nest has been able to glean a much clearer picture of what induces customers to sign up for demand response programs, and what keeps them happy once they’re enrolled.”

That’s an excerpt from a 2016 white paper on the Rush Hour Rewards demand response program offered by VAEEC Gold member – and February 2017 Featured Member of the Month – Nest.

Launched in 2014 to help utilities deal with summer peaks, Nest’s Rush Hour Rewards program runs on the Nest Learning Thermostat. The program centers on running personalized events that maximize load reduction while maintaining customer comfort. Deployed by 18 utilities in North America with more launching this summer, Rush Hour Rewards is available in winter and summer versions.

Some performance highlights:

  • An average of 55% aggregate HVAC load reduction during events
  • Over half of customers report increased satisfaction with their energy provider after participating

The Rush Hour Rewards white paper breaks down the keys to getting
customers in the door and ways to keep them happy. It also provides guidance for utilities in figuring out what DR program model would work
best for them.

To get a copy of the white paper, reach out to Dave Bend ( , Nest’s Head of East Coast Energy Partnerships. You can also take a look at their Rush Hour Rewards fact sheet

Getting customers in the door:

  • Make customers feel rewarded—up-front incentives paid directly to the customer pack the biggest punch.
  • Although rewards are important, just as many people are motivated to sign up for environmental reasons as for rewards. Different customers respond to different messages.
  • If you want a customer to participate in DR, help them understand what they are signing up for and why they should care.

Keeping customers satisfied:

  • Rewards and comfort matter most, but you can’t forget the impact of a customer’s enrollment experience on overall satisfaction.
  • Not all rewards are created equal—simple, annual reward structures outperform other models. And large one-time rewards can backfire when the customer expects the same reward again and discovers that it will not be forthcoming.
  • Allowing customers to adjust the temperature during an event if they need to has a minimal impact on overall program performance, and strong upside in terms of customer satisfaction and ongoing program participation year after year.