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Do energy consumers want to be engaged?

2/9/18 2:20 PM

Do energy consumers want to be engaged?

Conventional wisdom says energy consumers aren’t interested in actively managing their power use if their bills are predictable.

But the recently released 2018 State of the Consumer Report analyzed new research to find that two-thirds of consumers surveyed are interested in real-time usage data. Furthermore, interest is high among both renters and homeowners in tracking reports and savings suggestions delivered through an app or web portal.

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Consumers with less variability in their bills do tend to be more satisfied with their utility. Because of this, the report suggests one segment utilities might target first is customers with high seasonal fluctuation.

The potential household savings from responding to direct, real-time usage feedback can reach 12 percent. And even indirect feedback provided regularly with advice on energy savings can help shave more than 8 percent off a consumer’s bill.

One of the best feedback mechanisms continues to be prepay programs, which have proven to encourage more interaction and interest in energy usage on the part of participating consumers.

Published by the Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative, the State of the Consumer Report analyzed information from three previously conducted consumer surveys along with consumer engagement case studies from four utilities. Based on this analysis, the report develops six themes that could be used to drive customer engagement strategies.

Along with making usage and billing data more understandable and accessible, the report concludes that consumers want:

  1. Access to cleaner energy sources and are willing to pay for it;
  2. Programs that reward them for shifting peak energy usage;
  3. Choices in how they communicate with and receive information from utilities; and
  4. Education and outreach about utility programs and offerings.

Opportunities for engagement exist with each market segment, but especially with the growing Millennial market. The study confirms that this up-and-coming generation is more likely to respond to energy saving opportunities and targeted interactions with their utilities.

Ultimately, as more information is made available and automation makes energy management decisions easier, consumers will be quick to jump into the driver’s seat.

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