Seize the opportunity of the coming appliance-replacement boom

Seize the opportunity of the coming appliance-replacement boom

How utilities can “get credit” for  the 75 million household appliances that will need to be replaced over the next five years.

Around 6 million homes were built in the U.S. between 1994 and 1998. Another 14 million went up between 1999 and 2006.

The average life expectancy of household appliances is 13 years.

This means that over the next six years about 75 million household appliances – refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers, clothes washers and dryers – will need to be replaced.

When these items fail, it’s a surprise but not a crisis.

Homeowners will be open to buying ENERGY STAR appliances because they’ve heard about potential energy savings, and the availability of non-ENERGY STAR labeled units is limited in most stores.  But the experience in the store must be convenient. And the price must be affordable.

Manufacturer, utility and retailer rebates, incentives and financing plans help drive more efficient unit sales, but consumers will never hear about them without in-store POP and/or a well-trained sales staff who can explain them and help consumers apply for them.  And point-of-sale instant rebates are always preferred over mail-in rebates.

But we know that it’s difficult for utilities, in particular, to “get credit” for instant, in-store rebates.  It’s more difficult (though not impossible) to make the case that these sales were attributable to the rebate program, and not just due to free ridership (the consumer was going to buy the ES model, anyway).

What’s needed are some readily available sales data from a cooperating retailer. Utilities should gather baseline data showing unit sales patterns without an in-store rebate, then run a test in a few stores with the POP and training in place.  Data will likely show a lift in more expensive, ES unit sales, which a utility can take to their PUC to prove/document program rebate. Smart retailers will cooperate, since an increase in sales of higher-priced units is certainly in their best interest.

If you want consumers to make the best choice as they make appliance replacement decisions, you should:

  • Offer convenient instant rebates and in-store financing options
  • Advertise and promote ENERGY STAR appliances
  • Include information in print inserts, direct mail and at point-of-purchase that clearly communicates the availability of rebates and the operating cost savings associated with ES models
  • Not get caught short on inventory
  • Train sales staff about the offers and how help customers get them
  • Ensure that interactions in the store are convenient


Posted on

August 7, 2013

About the Author

Indra Chapman

Indra is a former contributor to Shelton Insights.

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