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Driving Energy Savings with Energy-Management Solutions

Savings is the primary factor that drives consumers to purchase energy-management solutions. Higher energy costs drive higher dissatisfaction, as evidenced by the number agreeing that their bills are too high, even among higher-income households. Bills are particularly higher for larger families and so is their dissatisfaction.

Energy companies are sharing data more frequently and more than half of consumers say they receive a daily breakdown. However only 17% of those consumers say they track consumption weekly or more; 11% say they never do. We asked consumers who receive daily breakdown and only about one-third say the breakdown includes all the information they need. So, the energy consumption breakdowns are clearly conveying some of the intended information, but critical information regarding rates at different times and energy consumption by device are either not available or not sufficiently clear to the readers.

People want to save energy and money, but they don’t know how to find and use energy information. Consumers attitudes are varied, but most need a push or more help to take action. Consumers want better insights on their energy usage, from bills or otherwise. Only 12% of broadband households are not taking any energy-saving actions. Additionally, 45% of broadband households made energy-saving renovations or added major energy devices in 2021, which is an all-time high.

Consumers want better insights on their energy usage, from bills or otherwise. Utilities and smart energy platform and app-makers are partnering to deliver clear, accurate energy-consumption information to their customers. Connecting this data to the energy bill and cost savings will maximize impact.

There is a large need and thus opportunity for utilities to market energy programs such as demand response and device-makers to sell energy-saving and energy-management devices to families who are looking for ways to reduce the bills they say are “too high.”

Consumers lack familiarity with energy programs and have general apprehension about demand response events, which are an important use case for smart thermostats in their capacity of saving on energy costs. Among participants and owners, the data shows these programs and products are effective and relatively painless. Some 74% of demand response participants say they barely noticed, or the DR (demand response) event was less unpleasant than expected, and only 9% say they saved less money than expected from using their smart thermostat.

There is an excellent business opportunity in these results: smart thermostats work. They save energy and money according to owners. DR is not unpleasant for most experiencing events. Industry players need to help these happy customers spread the good news to skeptical friends, family, and colleagues.

Interest in renewable energy is rising, and some households would even pay more for energy from renewable sources. While the interest is strong and getting stronger, there continues to be a major knowledge gap. Certainly, this is an opportunity for providers who are already using renewables to gather good will, and it’s also an opportunity to promote a different energy program (i.e., demand response) packaged with a popular renewable energy product.

Consumers are still not familiar with major home energy devices. Despite their willingness to make home renovations to reduce their energy costs and their interest in renewable energy, few consumers are familiar with the relevant home technology such as EVs, solar equipment, and battery storage.

Parks Associates will present new consumer research addressing key trends and topics affecting the energy and smart home industries during its 14th annual Smart Energy Summit: Engaging the Consumer. The executive conference series will host in-person sessions in February 2023 and virtual sessions throughout the year.

by Chris White, research director, Parks Associates

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