Research Finds Americans Open to Green Technology
By Steven Castle/Electronic House
A new survey by the Consumer Electronic Association (CEA) shows that consumers are receptive to energy efficiency, and that many find energy efficiency appealing to save money. “Saving money is what it’s all about,” says Steve Koenig, director of industry analysis for the CEA, in a keynote webcast on CEPro Live titled, “Powering Intelligent Electricity Use: Consumer Perspectives on Intelligent Energy Management.”
The phone survey, conducted among 1,254 adults in April 2011, found that 60 percent are concerned about their electric bills and that 38 percent are concerned about the electricity used by their electronics.
Energy use also ranked high among purchasing decision factors, following price and the variety and usefulness of features. People are also engaging in some energy-efficient behaviors. However, the CEA also found that about two-thirds of respondents were generally not aware of the smart grid or of energy management programs offered by utilities and others.
“People are generally open and cognizant about energy conservation, even though it’s not the most obvious to them or most top of mind compared with other issues [like the economy],” Koenig says.
Efficiency on the Rise
The survey found that many consumers are engaging in energy efficiency behaviors and thinking about energy consumption when shopping for electronics.
Energy Saving Habits (usually or always):
- Turn lights off when leaving a room—92 percent
- Adjust thermostat—79 percent
- Recycle trash—69 percent
- Run dishwasher when filled—68 percent
- Unplug electronic chargers when done—65 percent
- Looking for energy-efficient electronics when shopping—64 percent
- Shut down home PC when not in use—63 percent
- Recycle electronics—46 percent (though 37 percent say they never do this.)
Purchasing Decision Factors (important or very important)
- Price—95 percent
- Variety/usefulness of features—88 percent
- Energy consumption—85 percent
- Warranty—81 percent
- Ability to recycle the product—70 percent
Furthermore, 32 percent said they plan to purchase an energy-efficient device in the next year, and 15 percent said they would in the next two years.
Monitoring Energy Use
Some 55 percent said they would prefer to monitor their energy usage through an energy management program offered by their electric utility, while 46 percent would like to do so through a service or technology that allows them to “set it and forget it” (home automation) and 45 percent through an energy monitor. However, topping the list were 77 percent who believe they can monitor their energy use via their monthly bills and make adjustments manually.
Awareness is Key
Awareness in energy management is low among consumers across the U.S., and enrollment is low in energy management programs, Koenig says. The CEA projects only about 10.2 million out of a total of about 119 million households in the United States participating in energy management programs in 2011. And for those who do participate, 91 percent cited lower cost of electricity as the primary reason.
Reasons for Participation:
- Lower cost of electricity—91 percent
- More efficient use of electricity—69 percent
- Decrease one’s environmental impact—57 percent
- More easily monitor electricity use—55 percent
Americans still appear to be struggling with the new concepts of energy management, though some are open to it and like the idea of controlling their energy use with home and mobile technologies.
For example, 80 percent said they prefer to monitor their energy use via a paper bill or statement. However, 41 percent favor a device in the home, and the same number opted for an online portal, while 32 percent look to mobile devices. Koenig says he expects the numbers for home-based and mobile devices to continue to grow.
“Utility companies are best positioned to raise awareness of energy management programs,” he says, “because they’ve got a pipeline right into their customers.”
The CEA also recently released a white paper calling for policy changes that will help consumers realize energy savings. “Unlocking the Potential of the Smart Grid – A Regulatory Framework for the Consumer Domain of Smart Grid,” calls for dynamic pricing programs and real-time consumption and pricing information to reduce energy usage and improve consumer awareness of consumption practices.
Related: CEA, Consumer Electronic Association, energy management, Energy Saving Habits, Energy Savings, green, Monitoring Energy Use, PC, Purchasing Decision Factors, recycle, smart grid, Steve Koenig, United States