October 4, 2017

It’s Energy Efficiency Day. Do you care?

Enervee takes a peek at how we as consumers are stepping-up to the idea of saving energy, and how we see our energy providers as helping.

Written by
Guy Champniss

As consumers, we need to be more energy-efficient as we go about our life. We need to use less energy and, when we do use energy, we need to be more aware of when’s a good time to use it.

We need to be more switched-on about when we switch-on (and -off).

We know who and where we get our energy from, and we know (or can do, easily) what we pay for that energy — our energy provider is there for us in that respect. So should our energy provider also be our go-to source for getting better at saving energy? There are myriad arguments for energy companies to reduce residential demand (many if not most of which yield benefits for us the consumer), but do we see our energy company as an appropriate body to turn to for advice on how to get out bills down and reduce our energy consumption?

What do you think?

For this, the second Energy Efficiency Day (October 5th), we at Enervee decided to explore how consumers felt about using – and maybe deepening — their relationship with their energy company in order to save energy through buying more efficient products and appliances for their homes. We know this is a valuable way to save hefty amounts of energy and cash, as highly efficient products out-perform market average products simply by virtue of their engineering and design. We also believe it’s a pain-free option for consumers to save watts and dollars, since it’s arguing for a better product at the moment of purchase, with no impact on how that product is used or performs once at home. Buying a super-efficient fridge-freezer still delivers that cold beer; a super-efficient TV still gives us Offred under his eye. It’s a one-time intervention. Behaviour change, without the behaviour change.

We spoke to 600 active consumers about energy efficiency, buying energy efficient products, and if they believe their energy company plays — or can play — a constructive part in that important consumer journey. Here are our five key take-outs from the research.

Consumer relationships
Download: Consumers and their relationship with their energy providers

1. Efficiency costs, right?

More than one consumer in three still carries the misconception that energy-efficient products must be more costly. This is an expensive misconception to have, in every sense of the word, as it means we may immediately (intuitively) switch-off from a possible high efficiency alternative, simply because we’re misguided on the price. The implication is that highly efficient products are failing to make it into consumers’ evoked set simply because there’s a sense they shouldn’t be in there on cost alone.

2. But we want to buy…and want our energy companies need to be there for us when we do.

Conceptually at least, consumers are wholeheartedly on board with buying more efficient products and appliances — only 10% of consumers polled disagreed with the need to do so. Consumers also see their energy supplier as crucial in helping them make better choices — more than 80% of those polled are strongly in support of energy companies adopting this role.

3. Trusted Energy Advisor? Not yet…

But there’s a large efficiency gap — a chasm, even. Only 5% of us are currently confident to turn to our energy company for this advice and help. Consumers are most comfortable getting this information directly from appliance manufacturers — a warning bell for energy companies when considering what they believe to be their unassailable position within the burgeoning connected home concept.

4. Tell me, but don’t sell to me.

No, this is not about marketing, but rather where or from whom we as consumers buy super-efficient products and appliances. Whilst consumers show a strong interest in having their energy provider be

instrumental in the decision-making process (through highlighting specific efficiency benefits), very few want to go on and actually buy from their utility: only around 15% of consumers polled would be comfortable buying this way, with over half of consumers being most comfortable buying from retailers, or from the appliance manufacturers directly.

5. Energy efficiency is important, but it’s never going to get near purchase price, right?

Wrong, it seems. When given the option to express which attributes on a new product or appliance are influential in the buying decision, energy efficiency is ranked as highly as purchase price (and product reviews). Energy efficiency matters for appliance shoppers. And not just the efficiency-geek shoppers.

One final insight from the study: when asked if they’d buy a super-efficient product if they could see it was super-efficient and that it was not costing more to buy in the first place (which is often the case), almost 2/3rds of consumers polled strongly agreed it would be the best buying decision. At those levels, this is not the green, energy-conscious consumer speaking, but rather the common sense consumer: the consumer who’s looking for a good product, at a great price.

This suggests the route to delivering deeper and more sustainable energy saving is not necessarily a question of attitude change. It’s a question of transparency, timing and involvement.

It’s not about the messy process of educating or awareness-building, but instead about the lighter tasks of engaging and enabling. Whether energy providers are well placed to seize this opportunity, however, is unclear — at least based on our consumer research.

But the opportunity is there, and there’s mounting evidence (not just from these surveys but our wider research programme) that we as consumers are ready to act if given the ability and access to a decision context that reveals such choices.

We, of course, feel strongly that Enervee’s Marketplace platform is such a decision context — unique product efficiency data, the widest market coverage, and an unparalleled level of personalisation — all updated daily. This provides not just the ability, but the motivation and feedback that we as consumers require for such decisions.

But back to the bigger picture. We as consumers are moving, or have moved, to recognising the underlying arguments of buying efficient. Whether this is due to shifting social sentiment that sub-consciously shapes and wraps itself around every decision we make as consumers, or whether its more a more blatant and blunt recognition that we simply save money with more efficient products, we are not sure. But in many ways, it doesn’t matter. As staunch advocates of data and behavioural science thrown into the blender with digital marketing know-how, however the dial is moved on our collective decision-making is largely OK, as long as it moves (and yes, it’s a blender with an Enervee Score of 90+).

And on the second Energy Efficiency Day, we’re more than confident in the ability and motivation of us as consumers to bring about this change. We just need the tools to act. The question, is who will supply those tools?

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