Energy Efficiency Means Health

by | Feb 21, 2019

Shelton Stat

60% of Americans believe telling someone that an energy-efficient home is a healthier home is an effective way to get people to spend $1,500 on efficient home features (Energy Pulse 2018).
Sustainability Win of the Week

Once upon a time, somebody somewhere decided that the value proposition for energy efficiency was “save money.” And now it’s ubiquitous: utilities market their energy efficiency programs almost exclusively with Save Money messages, and appliance manufacturers, retailers and government agencies do the same.

The problem is, Americans don’t really believe it anymore.

Our Pulse® research reveals two trends: 1) fewer Americans are embracing energy efficiency initiatives because … 2) they are not realizing the cost savings. And 44% of the people who say they’ve done a few things to make their homes more energy efficient say their utility bills went UP, not down.

We can debate whether they’re right, whether they’re normalizing their bills for weather (they’re not), or whether they’re actually using their energy-efficient purchase as “moral license” to use more energy (some of them are). But bottom line: most people don’t have an actual experience of saving money, so the message simply doesn’t work anymore.

A message that will work? Health.

In the past few years, more research has come out on the health impacts of energy efficiency. A study on home energy efficiency and respiratory health published earlier this month reveals that people living in homes with high ventilation (due to poor insulation and air sealing) have higher rates of respiratory health issues, such as asthma. In fact, ACEEE published a similar report on energy efficiency and air quality just last year, stating that more than 30,000 asthma attacks could be prevented each year through improved energy efficiency – particularly in major cities with pollution.

There’s long been a concept in the sustainability arena called “In me, on me, around me” that basically posits that people are most concerned about the health impacts of products they ingest, followed by products that come in direct contact with their skin and then maybe if they had some energy left to worry, they’d be concerned about the health impacts of products around them. In our 2018 Energy Pulse study we dug into this and found, in fact, health is the primary driver for greener product purchases for food, skin care AND home improvement products. And the message “the product is chemical free” (which isn’t actually a possible thing) and “the product doesn’t produce chemical smells (VOCs)” were the messages that had the highest impact on product purchase for in me, on me and around me products, well outpacing other sustainability messaging we tested.

This makes total sense. Protecting your health and your family’s health is a WAY more emotionally motivating message. Will you write a check for EE home improvements because you believe it might help your daughter’s allergy or asthma problems? If you can find the money, you bet (and you’ll likely put in some effort to find the money). Will you spend money on EE home improvements to save money, when you’ve actually already screwed in a few LED lightbulbs and haven’t seen the savings you were promised? No way.

If you want to actually motivate people to save energy in their homes, stop screaming “save money.” And start promoting a benefit that matters more and resonates more deeply.

News of the Week
Net-zero energy homes have arrived – and are shaking up the U.S. housing market – CNBC

Net-zero energy homes are booming in certain parts of the U.S. – particularly in California where installation of solar panels will be required on all new construction of single-family homes starting next year. California’s goal is to reduce electrical grid stress, encourage energy self-sufficiency and minimize carbon footprint.

Ameren files $6.3B grid transformation plan with Missouri regulators – Utility Dive

This past week, utility Ameren Missouri submitted its ambitious $6.3 billion Smart Energy Plan to state regulators, with goals of committing $1 billion to wind energy in 2020, and other funding allocated to modernizing its electric grid, particularly in rural areas. Read about Ameren’s five-year Smart Energy Plan here.

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About the Author

Suzanne Shelton

Suzanne Shelton

Where Suzanne sees opportunity, you can bet results will follow. Drawing on her extensive knowledge of both the advertising world and the energy and environment arena, Suzanne provides unparalleled strategic insights to our clients and to audiences around North America. Suzanne is a guest columnist in multiple publications and websites, such as GreenBiz, and she speaks at around 20 conferences a year, including Sustainable Brands, Fortune Brainstorm E and Green Build.

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Suzanne Shelton

President and CEO

Suzanne is the voice and the vision of Shelton Group. Drawing on her extensive experience in energy and the environment – and 25+ years in the marketing and advertising industry – Suzanne provides high-level strategic insights for our clients and guidance for our research and creative departments. She regularly speaks at conferences around the country, including Sustainable Brands, Fortune Brainstorm E and the International Builders’ Show, and serves as a guest columnist for publications like Fast Company, Green Builder and

Susannah Enkema

VP Research & Insights

Susannah directs our research team and plays a key role in extracting the nuggets of information that pave the way for recommended marketing strategies and creative approaches. Susannah has nearly two decades of market research and strategy experience, including her role as president of SE Consulting, where she led the services for the likes of DIY Network and the makers of GORE-TEX®.

Matt Brass

VP Creative

Matt steers the creative department in concepting, designing and producing campaigns. He ensures sound strategy and deep insights inform everything his team develops, and works closely with the accounts department to ensure copy and designs will meet our clients’ goals. As a designer and filmmaker himself, he’s also a principal contributor to all of Shelton’s in-house photography and videography work.

Courtnay Hamachek

VP Operations

Courtnay oversees our day-to-day operations to keep us running smoothly and support our growth. She establishes project management systems and processes to help our teams anticipate bottlenecks, prevent process issues, and keep projects on time and on target. Courtnay has built extensive experience over 25 years in all aspects of marketing, from account services and project management to design and production.

Aaron Crecy

Digital Marketing Director

Aaron is responsible for planning, executing and measuring digital marketing strategies for Shelton Group and our clients, with an emphasis on inbound, content, SEO, social media, email and paid initiatives. He constantly researches and explores new tactics and strategies to improve digital campaign performance and results.

Aaron brings to the table more than 20 years of marketing leadership experience with premium consumer-facing brands. He came to Shelton Group by way of Malibu Boats, where, as Director of Global Marketing, he oversaw strategic marketing planning and execution for multiple product lines, with specific emphasis on social media and digital. Prior to that, he served as CMO for a leading daily fantasy sports operator, guiding it from startup to the industry’s third-ranked site.

Scot Case

Senior Consultant

A sustainability strategy consultant since 1993, Scot has served as non-profit leader, as a partner in an environmental marketing firm that he grew and sold, and as an executive in a multi-billion-dollar, international company. He has published dozens of articles and case studies, was co-author of the original “Sins of Greenwashing” study, testified before Congress, and been quoted on NPR, Good Morning America, CNN, The New York Times, Business Week, and the Wall Street Journal. Scot was also highlighted in an Emmy award-winning documentary on sustainable purchasing.

Casey Ward

VP Account Services

Casey manages our relationships, growth and development with a specific group of clients that includes Environmental Defense Fund, Cotton LEADS and CertainTeed Insulation. She provides leadership and support for the account team members who manage the day-to-day processes for these clients. She contributes to strategic direction for each client and guides our creative efforts to ensure everything we do builds toward meeting – or exceeding – the client’s goals. Her ability to simultaneously see the big picture and pay close attention to the details helps her champion her clients’ needs and identify new growth opportunities for them.