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Driving Consumer Engagement with Energy Efficiency

Parks Associates recently hosted its annual Smart Energy Summit in Austin, TX. The summit brought together industry professionals from both the smart home and energy management spaces. Analysts and executives discussed several key industry topics, including consumer engagement with utility energy-efficiency programs.

According to research by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE), energy-efficiency programs are the lowest cost energy resource available today. Energy-efficiency programs cost utilities an average of 2.8 cents per kWh, which is one-half to one-third the cost of new electricity alternatives. Given this difference in cost, utilities consistently develop and introduce new energy-efficiency programs. However, sustaining consumer interest in these programs remains a challenge. Parks Associates consumer research finds only 8% of US broadband households participate in energy programs that involve energy monitoring and management products, and that percentage has remained fairly consistent over the past year.

Barriers to adoption of energy-efficiency programs discussed at the event include the following:

  • Current energy-efficiency information is too complex – Utilities, along with their platform partners, provide consumers with data on energy use. This information is geared toward helping consumers understand their energy consumption patterns and how to reduce their energy usage, but often the information is complicated and does not offer clear calls to action. There is an opportunity to make this information simpler.
  • Need better incentives – Many perceive that current incentives (oftentimes incremental energy savings on energy bills) are not sufficient to drive program participation. Utilities can evaluate incentivizing consumers by letting them know how much their energy-efficiency actions impact their community and the grid.
  • More actionable insight needed – Consumers need more insight into the actions to take to minimize energy consumption.
  • Consumers have little control over energy use – Energy needs for heating and cooling are unpredictable, and costs are often unavoidable.
  • Information is not provided in real time – Consumers receive energy information when it is too late to do anything about it.
  • Consumers lack accessibility to some solutions – Some consumers do not have access to energy-efficiency solutions that involve smart technology.

Ultimately, different consumer segments are impacted differently by these barriers and are motivated to by different incentives to participate in energy-efficiency programs. Parks Associates examines the energy management preferences of different consumer segments in our Quantified Consumer report Consumer Demand for Smart Energy Solutions.

The company’s annual Smart Energy Summit features panel discussions and presentations that examine issues and trends impacting the smart home and energy markets. The next event will be February 15-17, 2021, in Austin, Texas.

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