Giving Lip Service: How Important is Energy Efficiency, Really?

If someone were to give you $10,000 for home improvements, how would you spend it? Would you pick ways to make your house look better or choose upgrades that would make your home more energy efficient?

If you are leaning towards beauty over efficiency, you’re in the majority. In this economy, where home sales are non-existent and loans are impossible to come by, some might assume that homeowners would be more likely to find ways to save money on things like their home energy bill. As most of the country heads into what is slated to be a very cold winter, homeowners are probably fearful of opening their first energy bill. Even though many Americans talk about wanting to make their homes more energy efficient, are they really doing anything about it?

Unfortunately the short answer is “no.” According to the Shelton Group’s annual Energy Pulse survey conducted in September, 37 percent of homeowners polled said that if they were handed $10,000 for home improvements, they would choose to refinish the kitchen or bathroom. This is compared to 31 percent who said they would replace windows or 23 percent that would replace their HVAC system.

The reality is that consumers think its not as much fun to buy insulation or a new HVAC unit as it is to replace the shower stall or install new cabinets in the kitchen. This could be because homeowners feel somewhat “stuck” in their current homes given the economic downturn, but ultimately the survey results show that there are still discrepancies between intentions and actions.

Each year the Energy Pulse survey finds home energy audit intention scores to be approximately 20 percent or more than when the study first began in 2005, but the percentage of those who have actually gotten audits remains low, at around 10 percent. Only CFL bulbs have shown follow through with respect to actions taken by consumers.

Evidently, according to the consumers polled in this survey, it takes a great deal to get people to invest in energy efficient improvements, even when the return on this kind of investment is often more than most other investments made by consumers. The Energy Pulse provides insight on just how much consumer utility bills would have to go up to push consumers to spend money on energy efficient renovations. A startling 31 percent said that it would take an increase of more than $129 a month on their utility bill before they would consider investing in energy efficient renovations. That would be over $4 a day- or $1500 a year- wasted by doing nothing.

One of the issues is that most consumers aren’t aware that they use more energy now than they did five years ago and many don’t understand the energy drain of most household appliances and electronics. Furthermore, some believe it is up to the utilities to provide energy conservation measures like smart meters. The truth is that consumers can and should consider taking control of their energy consumption and investing in energy efficient technologies that can provide very impressive pay back periods.

Companies interested in buying the full report will learn how to motivate consumers to buy energy efficient products and services by unlocking pertinent information about consumer attitudes and motivations.

About the Shelton Group:
The Shelton Group is the nation’s leading advertising agency at motivating mainstream consumers to make sustainable choices. The Shelton Group conducts four consumer opinion studies annually- Utility Pulse, Eco Pulse, Green Living Pulse and Energy Pulse- to continuously track shifting consumer perceptions on these topics. Shelton uses those insights in brand positioning, advertising, direct marketing and interactive work the agency performs for its clients.

Cory Vanderpool joined EnOcean Alliance as the Business Development Director for North America. Prior to this role, she was Executive Director of GreenLink Alliance, a non profit organization dedicated to promoting energy conservation in buildings and tax incentives for building owners. Before establishing GreenLink, Cory worked in business development supporting a government contracting firm focused on civilian and defense markets. In addition to her work at EnOcean, Cory is also pursuing her PhD in Environmental Policy at George Mason University and is a part-time contributing writer at Triple Pundit.

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