Survey explores what motivates consumers to be energy efficient and what hurdles they see to participating in energy-efficient actions
The Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative (SECC) today announced the publication of the “Consumer Values: Moving the Needle on Engagement” report, an exploration of “selectively engaged” energy consumers and the steps that electricity providers can take to better meet these consumers’ needs and wants.
According to previous SECC research, roughly 40 percent of U.S. consumers engage selectively in energy-efficient behaviors and programs, while 44 percent fall into the always engaged category and a minority of 15 percent are never engaged. The new “Consumer Values” report specifically seeks to learn why these selectively engaged consumers participate periodically and what would motivate them to take a more active role in managing their energy use.
These selectively engaged consumers strongly prioritize saving money when it comes to smart energy programs and services, with 57 percent selecting “keeping my utility bills low” as the top benefit, followed distantly by “keeping my family/home safe and secure” at 15 percent. However, these consumers note a number of barriers to participating in energy-related actions, particularly around the costs of participating.
For selectively engaged consumers, who typically have average or below-average annual household incomes, the lack of easy-to-understand information on upfront costs and potential return-on-investment is the primary barrier to engagement. Other notable hurdles include the lack of agency as a renter to make home-improvement upgrades, the difficultly of taking advantage of programs or rebates and the inability to pay for upfront costs.
The report aims to assist electricity providers in better serving selectively engaged consumers by offering recommendations for overcoming each of these hurdles, depending on what steps the consumer has already taken to be more energy efficient. For example, for a consumer who has taken no recent actions, energy-efficient lighting or online billing enrollment would be a suitable first step on the energy-engagement journey, whereas consumers who have installed a smart thermostat or upgraded their HVAC may require more personalized approaches.
“This survey offers actionable insights into the needs and goals of electricity customers,” said Mina Berkow, Policy Manager, Clean Energy at Environmental Defense Fund. “As the energy industry changes, the solutions proposed in the study can help people make more energy efficient choices and benefit from adopting clean energy technologies.”
The new report can be downloaded at www.smartenergycc.org/research, and a live webinar on the main findings and implications will be held on Thursday, Jan. 17 at 1 p.m. (ET).