The magic number for energy efficiency

The magic number for energy efficiency

Our Utility Pulse study will publish Friday, and there’s a very interesting finding that I’m sort of going to share about (it’s just too good to give the whole thing away).

For the last two years we’ve seen that about 30% of the American population says they’ve made energy efficient home improvements and haven’t seen the savings they expected.  We’ve noted several times in our blog and in speaking engagements that it’s up to utilities, manufacturers and retailers to manage consumer expectations — that we run around with these blanket “Save money!” ads without getting specific.  If you don’t get specific, the human brain, upon hearing a vague, incomplete promise, makes up a number.  When it comes to energy efficiency, the number is half.  In short, the average amount Americans expect to save on their monthly utility bill if they invest $4,000 in energy efficient home improvements equates to lopping their bills in half.

Not going to happen.

And, hence, why they feel they’re not seeing the savings they expect…which then leads to general demotivation to embark on any additional energy efficient product purchases or behavior changes.

This year’s Utility Pulse adds another layer.

In slicing and dicing the data we found that Americans who had performed a certain number of energy efficient home improvements were more likely to say they’d seen their bills go down.  Those who performed fewer than the magic number were more likely to say their bills stayed the same or went up.

So generating long-term good will, and creating an army of dedicated, satisfied, Energy Efficiency Citizens, then, is about managing expectations (telling them what they can expect to save from each improvement/purchase), AND ALSO about selling a package vs. one product at a time.

This is good news for utilities and retailers…maybe less good news for manufacturers.  And it certainly opens the door for contractors to begin bundling improvements together with the rationale that “it takes more than one improvement for you to see the utility bill savings you’d like.”

Very good stuff!

About the Author

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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