Smart Grid Survey Shows Need for Efficiency, but Lack of Awareness

January 16, 2013

It’s more good news/bad news for utilities rolling out smart grid programs. According to new survey by Pike Research, consumers are concerned about their electricity usage, but are not always willing to adopt new products and services that can help them curb their electricity consumption.

Pike Smart Grid survey

Pike Research’s Consumer Smart Grid Survey shows a need among consumers for energy efficiency, but a lack of willingness among many to adopt energy-efficiency technologies and smart grid services.

Smart grid and smart meter favorability is up, but the Smart Grid Consumer Survey also reports that awareness remains a challenge: nearly one-third of respondents were not familiar with smart grids, and one-quarter were not familiar with smart meters.

The web-based survey included 1,001 consumers in the United States.

Following are findings from the report:

  • Good news: Nearly three-fourths of consumers were concerned about the impact the cost of electricity has on their monthly budget, and 63 percent of respondents were interested in managing the energy used in their homes.
  • Bad news: When it came to acting on that interest, almost half expressed a lack of awareness of HEM (home energy management) services and showed low degrees of interest in their willingness to participate in programs such as demand response (DR).
  • Good news: Approximately two-thirds of consumers had a favorable or neutral view of smart grids and smart meters. Overall, the number of favorable respondents showed positive growth from the 2011 survey.
  • Bad news: Still, 30 percent of respondents were not familiar with smart grids, and 24 percent were not familiar with smart meters.
  • Good news: In many cases, the smart home capabilities made possible through smart grids and smart meters were most appealing to the younger, more educated, higher-income respondents.
  • Good/Bad? At the same time, it is the more mature segment of the population that is most interested in managing their home electricity usage, indicating a potential disconnect in the association between smart meter-enabled approaches for controlling energy use within that segment and an overall lack of willingness to engage with these approaches.
  • Bad news: A majority of consumers are not willing to pay a premium for renewable energy sources,  suggesting that consumers are not convinced they should support the development of these energy sources through higher bills.
  • Good news: Respondents who identified themselves as early adopters of technology were most interested in smart energy home technologies.
  • Bad news: However, it is not altogether clear that their adoption strategies correlate positively with a desire to manage their energy consumption.
  • Bad news: Less than one-third of the survey respondents showed a strong interest in variable Time of Use (TOU) pricing, and less than 40 percent were extremely likely or somewhat likely to consider a DR program. Interest in TOU pricing decreases steadily as respondents identify themselves as less willing to adopt new technologies.

Pike’s Conclusion:

Utilities and other stakeholders in the sector will continue to struggle with how to most effectively engage consumers in managing their energy use. Models for how to best do this are just beginning to be established, but it is still early in the adoption cycle for many of the approaches that utilities need consumers to embrace to achieve desired energy and capacity savings.

An executive summary and full report are available at Pike’s website.

It seems, once again, that awareness of energy use is the first critical step in establishing effective energy-efficiency programs.

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