As I write this, we’re wrapping up the analysis of our new Energy Pulse 2014 report. In a recent conversation about the results, I noted that the American sentiment about energy efficiency we see in this year’s study reminds me of the days when I was mothering a toddler. The overarching tone seems to be “NO! I don’t want to!” But instead of the other expression of independence I often heard (“I do it!”) we are hearing Americans say, “Do it for me!”
This year, we’re seeing declines in self-reported energy conserving activities and declining propensities for most energy-efficient purchases, home improvements and habits that are consistent with what we saw in this past summer’s Eco Pulse study.
Why? Unemployment is trending down, home values are up, and the economy is improving. As a result, consumers are less stressed out about their bills. After several years of hyper-responsibility and self-deprivation, Americans seem to be joyfully jacking up the AC and rebelliously leaving their chargers plugged in and their lights on. They’re also prioritizing other (prettier) home improvements.
This is what they really want:
- They want to buy (already) energy-efficient homes (71% said that energy efficiency would influence them to choose one home over another).
- And they want to rent (already) energy-efficient apartments (58%).
- They want smart automation and controls for climate and lighting.
- They want renewable energy – and they don’t want to pay more for it.
- The younger ones, in particular, want to choose their electric utility (and are open to other options).
In short, they want convenience, automation and more choices, but they really don’t want to think about any of this stuff very much.
We tackle the implications of these demands for builders, manufacturers and utilities in our new Energy Pulse report (on sale next month) and relay a particular word of warning for utilities – “if you don’t give them what they want, they may soon get it somewhere else!”