Giving users control of their energy consumption

Software Engineering
Digital Business Strategy
Digital Product Design

A never-seen-before pressure on the energy market pivoted the way we look at our energy consumption. People crave more insights, more transparency and more control over their energy usage and billing. And rightly so. ENGIE moves as Belgium’s biggest commodity provider towards a sustainable, trusted-partner relationship with its customers. With the help and expertise of In The Pocket, they released a mobile app that gives back control to their customer base.

The Short Story

  • Challenge: Helping customers keep track of their energy consumption & production, and enabling them to keep control over their budget
  • Solution: Building a mobile app that empowers them to understand their energy usage and adapt their behaviour accordingly
  • Approach: Translating the customer’s needs into seamless solutions, gathered in one single app.
  • Outcome: Bringing live energy insights to the user, helping them optimise their energy consumption and costs.

The challenge: Giving users more control

The worldwide energy crisis accelerated the need to consciously deal with your energy consumption. The volatile and high prices nudged customers to more insights and more control of energy consumption and production. Never before were people so interested in the exact amount of what they consumed and what their bills would look like. 

ENGIE swiftly recognised these needs and shifted course. Before the energy crisis, our collaboration already resulted in a brand new consumer app, linked to digital meters, aiming to give their customers a crystal clear overview of their bills, energy consumption and much more. But we needed to go further. Since the app’s user base exploded tenfold since the start of 2022, we needed to give the user the tools to take control of their energy.

The solution: Clarity, control & data

Building groundbreaking apps is our bread and butter. Together with ENGIE, we already had a firm foundation in place. A mobile app, connected to your digital meter, that neatly presents precise energy insights to every user. Plus, the option to easily adapt your monthly advances. But even when you design & develop a digital product according to all the UX/UI best practices, users’ needs can change.

Energy customer 2.0

The shockwave through the energy landscape caused a major increase in the app’s user base. In a matter of months, the counter jumped from 10,000 to 100,000 active users. Good news for the app and even better news for making improvements. Thanks to the huge rise in users, we could now improve the ENGIE app with a laser focus on our user’s feedback and input. This led to some significant changes, based on what our users need to know and want to know.

Now, when you open ENGIE’s app, you immediately get a crystal clear view of your to-date energy consumption and (possible) solar energy production. In the blink of an eye, you can see exactly how much kWh you consumed or injected into the electricity net and how much you will end up with at the end of the month.

Right under these insights, users find everything translated into billing info. How much money have I already spent? How does that relate to my monthly advance? Or to my final bill? And what’s the expected amount I will have to pay? And, naturally, we provide extended information screens to show where all these calculations are based on. Because giving data is one thing, but giving transparency is just as important. Especially for users who are new to monitoring the flow of their energy consumption.

Spreading your consumption ideally

In the coming years, we will electrify a big chunk of our mobility, housing & heating. To make sure the electricity network remains stable, VREG is introducing the capacity tariff in Flanders. With this tariff, households are nudged to avoid peaks in their energy consumption and thus spread their consumption throughout the day - in the smartest way possible. Households that create high monthly consumption peaks will see an increase in their energy bill. 

Knowing that peaks can only be measured with a digital meter, we made sure each user can see his monthly peak. But also the peak without surcharge. If a user stays under this peak he will keep his bills as low as possible, while using the grid in the most optimal & sustainable way.

Coming up...

In early 2023, we will be testing the Smart Live service with 300 app users. This subscription service will allow users to follow up on their consumption in real-time. A broad roll-out will follow later this year.

The approach: the technical stuff

Because hybrid mobile technology is the way to go, we chose to build the mobile app in Flutter, ensuring compatibility on both Android & iOS devices. Busy as always, we were working simultaneously on three other fronts as well:

  1. Aligning with the developers and architects at ENGIE for building the backend
  2. Creating the pairing process of the real-time dongle, a piece of hardware, which is plugged into your digital meter
  3. Integrating the authentication provider for the mobile app

On top of all the new services and features, a top-notch UX hovers over every step of the way. Our devs & designers revamped every single screen to provide the most logical and comfortable experience for every user. No overload of numbers, graphs and statistics. But the right insights at the right time. 

How can we say all this confidently? Because every single feature, screen and button were discovered, tested, reviewed and validated by different user panels. It’s no lie when we say we love a good bit of user research.

The Outcome

Together with ENGIE, we’ve played into the needs of a completely changed energy landscape. The ENGIE Smart app empowers users to analyse, adapt and optimise their energy consumption, production and billing. Thanks to a clever integration with digital meters, we deliver the most accurate data to the users while also making smarter use of the net. A win for the user and a win for a more sustainable future. Talking about killing two birds with one stone, right?

Our approach

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