How Utilita’s tech developments help customers save energy

utilita carbon footprint app

Energy company Utilita has launched a carbon footprint tool on its customer app – we spoke to sustainability lead Archie Lasseter to find out how it could help customers save energy and keep fuel bills down.

Why have you introduced the carbon footprint tracker?

It’s all part of our net zero by 2030 mission. We’re using the data that underpins it to quantify our footprint anyway, so why not be transparent and provide that to customers?

Tell us more about your 2030 target

It’s the most ambitious in the market. So, we need to do pretty much everything we can in the most cost-effective way. And we know that helping our customers use less energy – because the energy not used is the greenest and cheapest – will help them to identify the environmental impact of their energy use. It’s just another way to show customers the positive impact that they’re having by reducing their demand.

Can you explain how the tracker works?

It is split by fuel, and the electricity element is a little bit more complex than the gas. We use Carbon Intensity’s half hourly figure for how much carbon the electricity grid is producing per half hour, per region of the UK, and then we just match that to the smart meter data from our customers and show them the result.

For gas it’s a little bit more straightforward because it’s a homogenous product with no time-of-use element in there. We take the government figure of for kg of CO2 per kilowatt hour and multiply it by their consumption.

And do Utilita’s customers understand what this means?

I think if you look at various trackers, particularly the Public Attitudes Tracker that the government releases, awareness of carbon footprint is increasing a lot. But obviously, whenever we launch any new feature, we want to give the customers as much information as we can about it. There are FAQs within the app that are easy to click through straight from where the information is displayed, to explain how we’ve gone about calculating it and what our sources are.

Will they be able to track progress made?

We display the results in a couple of different ways. We have the last seven days, that’s rolling data so they can see the total amount of carbon that they’ve emitted in the last seven days, per day. Then also, we have it accumulating through the current month and accumulating through the current calendar year as well.

Does this mean customers could compete with others using the app?

We know from research that a competitive element is a really powerful way of incentivising people to change their behaviours and adopt new habits. So that that’s definitely something customers can do if they want to and something the tracking software could help customers with

Would you consider expanding its scope to include other metrics, in addition to energy use?

At the moment we are focused on showing customers the impact of the products and services we sell. There are other sources of emissions, whether that be from food consumption, or water consumption, or travel or fashion or just day-to-day purchases, and there are some fantastic calculators out there that tackle those things. I personally like using the WWF carbon footprint tool for all parts of lifestyle, but our app is focused on giving a more accurate picture of energy consumption than these more broad footprint calculators can and is bespoke to energy at the moment.

Do your customers embrace new tech?

About 90% of our customers have smart meters, which is double the industry average, and we know that our customers use about 11% less energy than the average UK consumer. We believe they have access to data that a lot of others might not, and we know that two thirds of our customers use our app. So approximately half a million people using our app, which has a lot of features embedded in it to help customers use up to 20% less energy. Our customers have got more opportunity than any customers of any other supplier in the market to help them understand and be in control of their energy consumption as a result of our app being so integral to the success of Utilita and the benefits that we can give to customers.

Delivering a carbon footprint piece through that app means that it’s accessible immediately to a really broad number of customers. It has a lot of reach. So whilst it’s only been out there for a few days, we plan to track how actively it’s being engaged with and what customers are saying about it. And ultimately, is it enabling customers to change behaviour.