Bewildered Energy Consumers No More?

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Solar panels on the Grand Budapest Hotel? Maybe if Gustave had been an energy concierge

The energy world is littered with stories about energy consumers who give up on doing the right thing out of confusion…

The family eager to install solar energy until they get wildly different advice (and prices) from installers.

The shopper who walks away from the light bulb aisle because the LEDS seem too costly (and what’s a lumen?)

The homeowner who turns down the free audit because nothing can possibly be free.

Consumers like clean energy, they want it, but they don’t get it.  And the industry doesn’t always make it easy for them to do so.

Now some well-known energy entrepreneurs think they may have found a solution: a personal energy concierge service for homeowners.

Like a hotel concierge, the energy concierge exists to improve the customer experence. But rather than offering advice on the best restaurants in town, Domino will direct consumers toward the energy efficiency and clean energy upgrades most suited for them — without pushing any particular products or companies.

Domino is the brainchild of Tom Dinwoodie, a familiar name in clean energy circles. Dinwoodie, who is acting as company chairman, is perhaps best known for building one of California’s early blockbuster solar companies, PowerLight, which was later acquired by giant SunPower. Domino’s CEO is Stephen Torres, who founded both Sunible and PV Solar Report.

Torres said that the new venture responds to the growing enlightenment by energy consumers that they can reduce the world’s reliance on fossil fuels through their own energy choices. He sees this drive as more likely to revolutionize energy than any action by policymakers.

“Consumer demand is a very powerful and persuasive piece of the puzzle,” Torres said, in an interview this week.

Free to Consumer

So how does the energy concierge service work?

Customers contact Domino, likely through its website and get paired with energy concierges, who can help them make decisions about how to green their homes and lifestyles.

During a discovery phone call, where the concierge learns basics about the home, the energy consumer is offered three different options.

The first, free and easy, educates consumers about ways to save energy and improve the home at no cost. The second option offers approaches that involve a small amount of spending, like installing LEDs. The third path gets into deeper investments, such as installing solar, fuel switching or buying and electric vehicle.

The consumer pays nothing for the concierge service. Domino makes its money through payment by vendors for customer acquisition and lead generation.

Domino acts as a neutral third party in helping the consumer make choices. It is product and vendor agnostic, although it offers a list of contractors that it has vetted. The key is to give the customer enough unbiased information to make intelligent choices. “We don’t want to pick winners,” Torres said

To that end, the energy concierge is not compensated through a sales commission. Instead, Domino pays the concierge a base salary plus bonuses based on action taken by customers. The bonuses are given for any meaningful action by the household, from turning down the thermostat (verified by a photo) to undertaking a home energy retrofit or installing solar panels and everything in between.

Domino is launching with angel investment, along with seed money from its founder. It has ten employees, and plans to double in size in the next few months.

The California-based company has big goals. It hopes to eventually help one billion consumers. True to its name, Domino sees “all of the little actions adding up” and eventually cascading into significant reductions in world fossil fuel use, Torres said.

Perhaps so. But at the very least, it will be no small thing to relieve consumer angst in making energy decisions.

What do you think about the energy concierge idea? Let us know by commenting below or on our LinkedIn Group, Energy Efficiency Markets.

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Elisa Wood About Elisa Wood

Elisa Wood is the chief editor of MicrogridKnowledge.com. She has been writing about energy for more than two decades for top industry publications. Her work also has been picked up by CNN, the New York Times, Reuters, the Wall Street Journal Online and the Washington Post.

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  1. […] to see what their service was like, and they were pretty thorough and helpful. Read more about them here. (I’m not an affiliate nor paid by them to promote their service; I just thought they had a […]

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