Our most important Energy Pulse ever

Our most important Energy Pulse ever

I can’t honestly remember if this is our 9th or 10th annual Energy Pulse study. It really doesn’t matter. What matters is that it will be remembered (at least by me) as the study that marked the shift in the American residential energy landscape … the study that foreshadowed and foretold the huge changes to come as we enter the era of the Connected Home.

Here’s what I mean:

  • Propensity to make energy-efficient improvements/buy energy-efficient products is down across the board.
  • Satisfaction with utilities has gone down drastically over the last 18 months – from 43% less than satisfied in January 2013 to 55% less than satisfied today (the polling was done in August).
  • Interest in purchasing energy (and energy management products and services) FROM A NON-UTILITY PROVIDER is extremely high.

This wouldn’t matter if it weren’t for what else is happening right now. The home energy management market is a $1.5 billion market today … and that number is expected to jump to $4 billion by 2017. Thus, every imaginable player from cable companies and telecommunications firms to Internet service providers and retailers are getting in the game. If you haven’t gotten a call from Comcast, Charter or ADT trying to sell you a smart thermostat and lighting controls, you will. And many of us will say yes.

For years, over half the population has been interested in such things, but it’s been too damn hard to actually engage (you had to find a product, find someone to install it, actually look at the data and then do something about your energy consumption). Now if a guy from Comcast will show up at my house and install all the equipment, if I can set said equipment with a few strokes of my smartphone and let it learn my behavior and optimize my home’s efficiency for me, awesome. And if that only costs a few bucks more a month than the exorbitant amount I’m already paying Comcast – and it comes on that one bill I’m already paying – that’s pretty easy to say yes to.

Meanwhile, how we all do business is changing. Smartphone penetration is expected to reach 75% by the end of this year, and we’re now using those smartphones a whopping 43 hours 31 minutes each month specifically to connect to content through an app or mobile web browser. In essence, we can control the universe from our phones … so it’s only natural that we’d be able to control our homes from our phones as well. Layer in the rapidly emerging “do it for me” market (apps and services that let you get anybody to basically do anything for you except brush your teeth … and I’m waiting on that one), and it’s easy to see how consumer expectations of utility companies will quickly be out of line with what utilities can actually provide.

Case in point: If an Outback Steakhouse app can now tell me the wait time at any Outback in America AND let me save a place in line, why in the world can’t my utility tell me when my power is going to come back on during an outage?

Many of the utilities we work with say things like, “We’re focused on getting the basics right,” and I’m here to tell you – and Energy Pulse is here to foreshadow – that the basics are changing every day. The baseline expectations we all have about how we should be able to manage the comfort of our homes and the energy we use to power them are going up every day. Lots of high-tech providers are already in this space working to make the Connected Home a reality. I predict in the next two years that two to three players will emerge as the winners, having consolidated entire systems for how we manage our homes easily from our smartphones, and a handful of national players will emerge that make upgrading the efficiency of our homes easy with no money down.

If you’re a manufacturer or service provider in the residential arena, the question for you is this: Will you figure out how to take advantage of all these shifts? If you’re a utility, the question is this: Will you still be relevant/able to hang on to your customers?


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Posted on

November 19, 2014

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 GreenBiz.com.

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.