It’s the money, honey. For most consumers, times are still tough.
Our Utility Pulse™ ’13 study shows that investment in energy-efficient (EE) products and home improvements is stagnant, as it has been since the economic downturn.
One reason for this malaise is frustration that previous actions didn’t cut power bills as much as consumers had expected, resulting in a sense of helplessness. Customers think, “Nothing I do makes any difference! Why bother trying?”
The other side of this coin is the need for behavioral changes to go along with the ENERGY STAR appliances. (Hint: If you take the old fridge and plug it in to store beer in the garage, you’re not saving any electricity.)
But the foundation of our stagnant EE market is the persistent reality that – for most homeowners – budgets are still tight. Specifically:
- For those who have a job, real earnings are down.
- The average American family has a balance of $3,800 in their savings account.
- Consumer confidence is down.
- Reduced home values have made homeowners reluctant to invest more money in their homes.
In our study, the stated motivation for having an energy-efficient home is to save money, and the stated obstacle to embracing energy efficiency is up-front cost.
The answer is to connect homeowners with rebates and financing requiring little or nothing up front – and don’t forget the training to make sure homeowners adopt the energy-saving behaviors that will make the improvements pay off.