Lower-income consumers value saving energy and investing in renewable energy, but face significant financial obstacles to engagement
The Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative (SECC) today released a new report that sheds light on lower-income consumers’ behaviors, attitudes and values as they relate to energy efficiency, smart home technology, renewable energy, their electricity providers and climate change.
The “Understanding Lower-Income Consumers and the Smart Energy Future” report was developed from an online national survey administered to 1,000 consumers across the U.S. in August and September. This research defined lower-income consumers as those earning less than $50,000 annually. Further analysis delineated consumers earning less than $25,000 as low-income consumers and those earning over $25,000 as moderate-income consumers.
The report found that lower-income consumers’ values largely align with those of higher-income Americans. As expected, saving money is the primary driver of energy decision-making – a finding consistent with SECC’s past research. About half (47 percent) of lower-income consumers cited “the money I can save” as their primary thought when they consider energy-saving options. Lower-income consumers also expressed considerable concern for the environment and support for investments in clean energy: eighty-one percent value these two priorities.
However, this research also revealed significant financial obstacles for lower-income consumers. According to ACEEE, low-income households experience disproportionately higher energy burdens, yet the report found that the majority of lower-income consumers are unaware of financial assistance programs to help pay bills or install energy-efficient upgrades.
The “Understanding Lower-Income Consumers and the Smart Energy Future” report can be downloaded here, and the research team will present a one-hour webinar on the key findings this Wednesday, Nov. 18 at 1 p.m. (ET).