Research conducted by Cranfield University, has revealed that household water consumption changed significantly after the start of the COVID-19 lockdown – shifting from predominantly higher usage early in the morning to multiple peaks and continued demand throughout the day. The purpose of the study was to understand residential water consumption patterns in order to provide a solid framework for peak demand management to help utility companies forecast consumption, especially at unusual times such as pandemics, droughts and when there are seasonal variations.

The study analysed data from 11,528 household smart meters in the East of England from January to May 2020, and used machine learning algorithms to identify patterns in hourly water consumption.

The key findings of the research include

• There was an overall increase in household consumption from March to May 2020 compared to the same period in 2019, with the gap opening as lockdown restrictions deepened
• There was a sharp increase (10% on the previous week) in consumption was recorded in the fourth week of March – the week of the first COVID-19 lockdown – rising to 46% above the pre-lockdown average in the fourth week of May
• Four distinct clusters of household water consumers can be characterized by their unique patterns of hourly use: early morning, late morning, evening peak and multiple peak
• The multiple peak cluster experienced the most significant increase in the number of households during the lockdown period, with a 93% rise between the third and fourth weeks of March
• The early morning cluster experienced the sharpest decrease in the number of households during the lockdown period, with a significant drop in their share of relative consumption between 07:00-08:00 a.m. from 40% to 20%

The impact of the extended time people that were required stay at home under the lockdown and the ensuing changes in behavior arising from this, led to an increase in household water demand which exacerbated existing pressure on network water supply.

Here are three ways in which Advizzo’s data science and behavioral science based customer engagement solutions can help the water companies with demand management.

  1. Increased customer engagement and insight
    Using our bespoke software, we send personalized, behavioral science based communications to individual customers that relate to their household’s water consumption. Our customer engagement platform and communications approach increase engagement between the customer and supplier, and is proven to motivate customers to make behavioral changes to reduce their water consumption. You can read more about the importance of customer engagement and how to boost your customer engagement strategy in our blog – Engaging with customers through a time of crisis.
  2. Use smart meter data to reduce leaks
    Recent advances in intelligent water meter technology have improved the quantitative monitoring of water supply and consumption. Using smart meter data we can indicate high water consumption to individual household’s that might have a potential leak – encouraging customers to monitor consumption, and helping water companies to be proactive in detecting and fixing leaks.
  3. Help water companies cross sell/up sell products to reduce consumption
    The increased customer engagement that our platform and solutions deliver serves to increase customer confidence in their supplier. Growing traction in engagement offers water companies the ideal opportunity to gain a better understanding of their individual customers, enabling them to target-market households with suggestions for products and services that could further reduce water consumption.

To find out more about Advizzo’s services and solutions, get in touch.