Utilities and retailers should partner to spark sales of energy-efficient products and home improvements

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Utilities and retailers should partner to spark sales of energy-efficient products and home improvements

By joining forces, they could create win-wins on some of their toughest problems.

Three-quarters of American homes need energy efficiency improvements.

Unfortunately, the lingering recession has taken its toll on homeowners’ enthusiasm for buying energy-efficient appliances and making energy-saving improvements, such as insulation, double-pane windows or compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) or light emitting diode (LED) lighting.

One reason is frustration: After making some of these investments, consumers have not seen their power bills go down. In part, their expectations were unrealistic. In part, they haven’t changed their energy-wasting ways – and many want to be shown how.

Another reason for the malaise is that many homeowners, particularly the lower-income ones, either don’t know about rebates and incentives their power companies offer or can’t figure out how to apply for them.

Not surprisingly, our Utility Pulse™ ’13 study shows that 46.8 percent of respondents prefer instant rebates as the No. 1 financial incentive, beating out tax credits (18.7 percent), mail-in rebates (15.9 percent), low-interest loans (8.2 percent), tax-deductible home equity loans (5.5 percent) and 90 days zero-interest same-as-cash loans (4.9 percent).

Working together, utilities and retailers can help each other in these ways:
 

  • Retailers can promote utility rebates and apply them on the spot, helping to move their appliances, and utilities can make their customers happy by connecting them to the rebate opportunities they’ve been missing.
  • Utilities need to teach their customers energy-smart behaviors. Many customers are asking for training – and retailers are in contact with those customers. By providing the instruction, retailers can get their customers more engaged, more satisfied and back for more improvements.
  • As part of their energy audit processes, utilities regularly recommend appliances or improvements. It would be easy to hand out special offers from retailers at the same time.
  • Retailers want to sell LED lights. Utilities want their customers to buy them. With a little exchanged knowledge, they could make effective pitches to the correct market segments and help each other in the process.
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Posted on

August 16, 2013

About the Author

Lee Ann Head

Lee Ann is a former contributor to Shelton Insights.

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