Convincing Americans that “it’s worth it”

Convincing Americans that “it’s worth it”

According to Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, utilities spent $6.9 billion in 2012 on rebate programs – all designed to nudge Americans to make energy efficiency (EE) upgrades to their homes and adopt EE behaviors. From our years of marketing such programs, we’d say roughly 5 percent of that total went toward sales and marketing efforts – so $350 million.

Again, from our experience and observations, the vast majority of that $350 million has been used to convince Americans they’ll save money by being energy efficient. The problem is this: They don’t believe it.

In fact, they have such disbelief that they don’t even pay attention to the message. After all that spending, 67 percent of Americans are still unaware that utility rebate programs even exist. We could fault the lack of creativity of the message, and certainly that’s a problem in many cases. But as the authors of Influencer point out, there are two conditions required to create change (and being energy efficient is a behavior change):

  1. A belief that I can actually do the thing being asked of me
  2. A belief that it’s worth it

Our challenge in the EE world is belief #2. Our most recent Energy Pulse study revealed that “improving resale value” is a key driver for homeowners to make improvements to their homes. Energy Pulse also revealed that this would be a great message to get homeowners to make EE improvements … but today, most homeowners DON’T believe it’s true.

The real estate industry has done an excellent job of pounding into the collective consciousness that we’ll all improve resale value by upgrading the look of our kitchens and bathrooms. The industry simply has not done a good job of pounding into the collective consciousness that we’ll all improve resale value by upgrading the energy efficiency of our homes. And that is, in fact, true.

A recent California Berkeley/UCLA study of 1.6 million home transactions found that green labeling improved selling price. Controlling for all other factors, such as location, school district, crime rate, time period of sale, views and amenities, researchers found that the 4,321 homes sold with ENERGY STAR, LEED or GreenPoint rated labels commanded an average price premium of 9 percent.

Americans are not clued in to this juicy fact. Nor are they considering how the lack of EE improvements could perhaps screw up a sale. Follow our logic here: According to HanleyWood’s Housing Continuum Study, more than 70 percent of people who purchased existing homes knew they were going to do some remodeling to the home and, in fact, knew what they were going to remodel before they even closed on it. But the basics like HVAC and water heater upgrades or added insulation are NOT what new homeowners want to spend their money on. Most people don’t want to spend their initial remodeling budget on energy-efficient improvements … they want to spend it on the pretty things that make their house feel like their home.

So as we move into 2014, let’s start spending that big pile of EE marketing dollars on convincing Americans that they’ll increase the resale value of their homes AND they’ll avoid screwing up a sale. Those are two really compelling reasons to believe energy efficiency is worth it.

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.