Programs and initiatives focused on electrifying homes have accelerated in recent years, and when done right, they have the potential to provide many benefits to electricity providers, consumers and communities. According to the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), building electrification can lower carbon emissions, create healthier living environments, provide energy savings to customers, reduce air pollution in communities of color and more.
While the potential benefits of home electrification are many, what do today’s consumers actually know about electrifying their homes?
To better understand consumers’ awareness, interests and concerns related to electrifying space heating, cooking, water heating and transportation, the Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative (SECC) recently conducted a nationally representative online survey with 1,500 respondents – plus an additional sample of 621 current electric vehicle (EV) drivers.
The “Electrification at Home and on the Road” report revealed that consumer awareness of the benefits of home electrification may be lagging some of the new programs and incentives now available. When asked what benefits they would associate with having their homes powered only by electricity, 34 percent said cost savings; 31 percent said improved indoor air quality; 28 percent said reduced energy usage; and 27 percent noted lowered greenhouse gas emissions. About one-quarter (26 percent) said they wouldn’t expect any benefits.
While consumers correctly identified the most important benefits of electrification, the relatively low percentages suggest that there may be a gap in consumer awareness. For example, only a third of Green Pioneers, a consumer segment known for its environmental values and actions, noted a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions as a benefit. And just 42 percent said that improved indoor air quality was a benefit. Even among this knowledgeable, eco-conscious segment, 15 percent believe that there are no benefits to home electrification.
For other consumer segments, there is outright skepticism that electrification at home provides benefits to the consumer. About half (47 percent) of Comfort Seekers stated that there are no benefits to having a home powered only by electricity. This finding is not particularly surprising since the Comfort Seekers – 12 percent of the U.S. population – generally reject the benefits of energy efficiency and clean energy programs.
However, there are still high levels of Trusting Traditionalists (39 percent) and Simply Sustainable consumers (29 percent) that think that having an all-electric home provides zero benefits. It’s also notable that less than one-third (30 percent) of the Simply Sustainable consumers – another segment marked by strong environmental values – associate having a home powered by electricity with reduced carbon emissions.
While the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which was signed into law in August 2022, included $8.8 billion in rebates for home energy efficiency and electrification projects, many consumers are also unaware of any rebates or other financial incentives available for electrifying their homes. When asked whether they had heard of any rebates or incentives for heat pumps, induction cooktops, electric water heaters or other electric appliances, the majority (70 percent) stated that they had not, including 85 percent of Comfort Seekers, 87 percent of Trusting Traditionalists and 80 percent of Simply Sustainable consumers.
On the other hand, only 47 percent of Connected Pragmatists have not heard of any rebates or incentives. This segment is younger and tech-savvy and could be the generation that makes the big push toward electrification. About a quarter of them have heard of incentives or rebates for heat pumps and induction cooktops, compared to 6-15 percent and 2-11 percent of the other four segments.
However, there seems to be a silver lining: Consumers are interested in learning more about home electrification from their electricity providers. Only 17 percent stated that they don’t want to hear anything on the topic from their providers, and half want information and offers for rebates and cost savings calculators for switching to a heat pump, induction cooktop or electric water heater. In addition, 42 percent want information on the general benefits and importance of electrifying homes.
Among the Green Pioneers and Simply Sustainable segments, in particular, there seems to be a hunger for more information across the board, and with the Connected Pragmatists, there’s notably strong interest in both the ability to try out new electric appliances in person and in greenhouse gas savings calculators. Even among the Comfort Seekers, about one-third (32 percent) still want general information on home electrification from their electricity providers.
Based on the findings from the new report, it’s clear that consumer awareness is still relatively low in these early days of electrification. However, consumers also seem to be hungry for information – both general education on electrification and personalized analysis – and seem to be looking to their electricity providers as trusted sources of both information and financial incentives/rebates. By connecting consumers with the information and offers they want, providers can help them unlock the many benefits of electrification at home.
To learn more about what Americans think about electrifying their homes and driving EVs, download our latest consumer research report here.