They are optimistic that they will buy energy-efficient products but held back by their finances. Streamlined, point-of-purchase rebates can make a difference.
The Great Gatsby opened earlier this year, with a soundtrack by Jay-Z.
In a Wall Street Journal story, director Baz Lurhmann told of watching a rough cut with Jay-Z, who afterward turned to Luhrmann and said, “It’s an aspirational film. You know, the thing about this story is that it’s not a question of how Gatsby made his money, it’s is he a good person or not? Is there meaning in his life?”
We refer to our Working Class Realists as aspirational when it comes to many energy-efficient home improvements. Although they rarely have enough money to make ends meet, they aspire to buy energy-efficient products that will help save money on those pesky utility bills.
As Jay-Z might say, it’s not where they are with their money. It’s what would they like to do with it. They’ve got their heads down, trying to figure out how to pay their utility bills and put groceries on the table. And while they love the idea of a more energy-efficient home, they just don’t have the time to jump through the hoops to get available incentives or the money to spend on more efficient models.
While they say it’s important for utilities to offer energy efficiency rebates and incentives, Working Class Realists rarely take advantage of them because of the upfront costs and planning needed to participate.
For example, they’re unlikely to carefully weigh the money to be saved by an ENERGY STAR qualified fridge, keep track of a receipt and product number for a mail-in rebate, and have enough cash on hand to wait for that rebate to arrive.
To connect this group with the upscale replacements they aspire to, utility companies, contractors, manufacturers and retailers should work together to:
- Reexamine rebate offers to make sure they’re as streamlined as possible for both do-it-yourself and contractor installs
- Make rebates available at point of purchase to reduce initial out-of-pocket costs
- Use non-traditional media tools and local community outreach to make this hard-to-reach consumer segment aware of rebates
- Encourage long-term proactive participation by linking rebates to a larger “whole home” program rather than one-off, stand-alone offers