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Energy Efficiency, Why Isn't Everyone Enrolled?

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Nevelyn Black's picture
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Nevelyn Black is an independent writer with a background in broadcast and a keen interest in renewable energy.  In the last few years, she transitioned from celebrity interviews and film shoots...

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  • Oct 24, 2019

This item is part of the Energy Efficiency - Fall 2019 SPECIAL ISSUE, click here for more

A 2017 study on corporate social responsibility showed that millennials are the most likely demographic to tell friends and family about CSR efforts and to give a company direct feedback.  What are they saying about you?  Are you taking full advantage of this ‘word-of-mouth’ marketing?  Better still, are socially and environmentally responsible consumers able to find you and your energy efficiency iniatives in the marketplace?  

Energy Efficiency programs began in the 70’s and over time developed into an expanded set of customer energy efficiency programs provided by utilities. In 1980, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) was founded.  The nonprofit organization, ACEEE, understands their goals of reducing US energy consumption and CO2 emissions while tripling current energy productivity are aggressive but believes it is feasible.  According to the organization, the levelized cost of one kWh “generated” as a result of energy efficiency costs $0.02-$0.04. Natural gas costs approximately $0.05-$0.08/kWh, and coal can cost as much as $0.15/kWh. On average, energy savings from energy efficiency programs come at one-third the cost of new energy generation resources.

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Now energy efficiency is receiving support from legislators and regulators at unprecedented levels. It promises to reduce greenhouse gases, save money for customers, and generate jobs. But if energy efficiency programs are so great, why isn’t everyone participating?  It seems getting the word out via mailers, emails and door-to-door visits have been unsuccessful. In fact, the response rate & customer follow through has been too disappointingly low for the marketing dollars to translate into the equivalent energy savings. There are many theories about why it isn’t working.  One being, the rebate experience doesn’t align well with customers’ expectations.  Participating is believed to be time-consuming, inconvenient, and inflexible.  Customer expectations have drastically changed in recent years.  Energy customers are asking for more from their electricity providers.  Last year, the Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative (SECC) conducted several focus groups and an online survey to see what those expectations were.  They found that only five percent state they would “definitely not” participate in a rewards-type program.  Showing the majority are interested in additional products and services like automation and energy efficiency programs.   Research has also shown that companies marketing to millennials must be socially and environmentally responsible. These days, the average consumer is more informed about your business practices and your carbon footprint.  Beyond scrutinizing their energy provider, consumers want to monitor and manage their own energy use as well.  Many suppliers offer energy efficiency initiatives to help consumers better control costs and curtail energy usage and competitors are simplifying and customizing the process, offering an easier process and no-money-down financing on more than a million energy-efficient and renewable energy products.

How will your utility combat being edged out by new competitors?  What strategy is your utility employing to reach consumers with the least expensive way to source 'new' electricity?  Energy Efficiency.


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