Big utilities such as EDF and British Gas have enabled customers to use Alexa to manage their accounts in an effort to build stronger relationships by making their lives easier. Amazon’s Alexa competes with Apple’s Siri and Google’s Assistant, while utilities are rapidly developing products such as leak detectors and motion-detecting cameras. Electricity supply is becoming increasingly sophisticated, decentralised and tailored to individuals’ homes and streets – creating further opportunities for Alexa and similar services. Challenger brand Octopus Energy sells a tariff that allows households to use electricity when it is in less demand and therefore less expensive – and it has enabled Alexa to work this out and pass on the message. For example, customers can say: “Alexa, I want to turn on the tumble dryer when it is cheapest and greenest.” Alexa might respond: “I’ll do it at 8am, when it’s 75% cheaper than it is now.” The energy regulator Ofgem wants more companies to provide such “time of use” tariffs, while plans for owners of electric cars to be able to sell electricity from their vehicles back to the grid are also expected to create opportunities.
Times 20th Jan 2019 read more »