Are Comfort and Security Keys to Selling Energy Efficiency?

February 9, 2011
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More insights from the recent Parks Associates’ Smart Energy Summit: Engaging the Consumer. Interestingly, comfort and security are emerging as key benefits of energy efficiency that appeal to consumers.

See the accompanying graph from Parks’ 2010 Residential Energy Management Survey, and you’ll find comfort closely trailing money savings as the reason participants engaged in energy-efficiency home improvements.

“Consumers are starting to see energy-efficient products and services as a means to improve their home and personal comfort as well as for cost savings, which opens the market for a variety of solutions from utilities, service providers, and manufacturers,” says Bill Ablondi, director of Home Systems for Parks Associates.

Comfort, of course, points directly toward HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) systems, proper home insulation and weatherproofing. And a good home energy management or home control system can govern thermostats to automatically adjust temperature in certain rooms or zones—and allow homeowners to turn the heat or cooling off via a smartphone while on their way home, for example.

Security, Too?

Security firm ADT may have it right with the rollout of its Pulse connected home system, soon to include more energy management features. First of all, ADT is not trying to sell energy management as a separate system; it’s one feature in a package. And perhaps even more powerfully, it’s using its security platform to do it.

Take a look at these Parks Associates’ findings of specific groups to target before others in the early stages of home energy management:

  • Consumers who are environmentally conscious.
  • Consumers reporting a willingness to allow utilities to control systems in their home.
  • Consumers who subscribe to professionally monitored security services. (14 percent of broadband households).
  • Smartphone owners (35 percent of broadband households).
  • Younger consumers, those 18 to 34 years old (24 percent of BB HHs).

Yep, consumers with smartphones or security monitoring are much more willing to embrace energy management in the home. And this only makes sense, as these are people interested in connectivity and those who will pay to protect their investments in their homes.

In fact, Parks reports: “Nearly 30 percent of subscribers to professional security monitoring services are very interested in signing up for an energy monitoring service; their interest level remains the same for either a $5 or $10 per month fee.”

Households with HVAC service contracts are also good candidates for home energy management.

Who Do They Trust?

“Consumers look to electric utilities for energy monitoring and savings solutions FIRST, but other service providers are strong contenders to gain the trust of many consumers if they choose to offer energy management services,” Parks reports.

  • HVAC service firms are somewhat ahead of others as the second most trusted provider.
  • Cable, Telco and security service providers are all relatively equally trusted by consumers for offering an energy monitoring service.
  • A web-based firm such as Google does not appear to be as trusted as the above service providers for energy management and monitoring services.
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