US Consumers Want to Combat Climate Change but Need Help Getting Started

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A new Oracle Utilities survey shows that US consumers are eager to ‘go green,’ but don’t necessarily know where to start. Nearly half (45%) of respondents said fighting climate change is personally important, and 54% want to reduce their carbon footprint.

The trouble is that 39% of people surveyed have never even heard the word ‘decarbonization’ and 67% have no or only a vague idea where their carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions come from. Sixty percent of people said they would look to advice from their utility to help reduce energy consumption, but just 20% have taken advantage of these energy-saving insights so far.

“A growing number of utilities have set ambitious net-zero carbon emission goals. Influencing customers to act – on a scale we’ve never seen – is critical to achieving those targets quickly and affordably,” said Paul McDonald, senior director, Oracle Utilities Opower. “The research shows a lot of people recognize the challenge and want to take action. It’s our job to make it obvious and easy for them to do so. Some utilities are already engaging customers in this journey, and they’ve seen that even small actions from a lot of people can make a big impact on achieving their decarbonization targets.”

The results were part of an Oracle Utilities global study conducted by Untold Insights in February 2021. The survey polled 515 US residents and an additional 2,069 consumers in the United KingdomCanadaFrance, and Spain to understand their thoughts on climate change and desire to help. Download the decarbonization report here.

Consumers want to go green

  • 52% of consumers said that reducing air pollution is personally important.
  • 41% said they want to reduce reliance on “dirty energy” by transitioning to renewable energy sources.
  • 37% noted they have or would shift energy consumption to off-peak times
  • 45% already have or would heat or cool their home at more optimal times
  • 37% already have or would take steps to reduce their energy use to help avoid blackouts.

“With extreme weather events increasing and electrification bound to put more strain on the grid, utilities need people to understand that when they use energy can be just as important as conserving it,” added McDonald. “The great thing the survey shows is that consumers are eager to be part of a clean, resilient energy system and want to work with their utility to promote positive change.”

Consumers see utilities as a trusted advisor and are looking for help
While 21% of respondents recognized their utility for offering helpful energy reduction tips and advice, others added that their provider should:

  • 61% – help reduce their home energy usage.
  • 57% – help them use energy at the most efficient times of the day.
  • 56% – help them access more renewable electricity.

“For your typical consumer, knowing is half the battle when it comes to making meaningful changes to energy use. The unmet consumer demand for outreach and help from energy providers is striking, and the business opportunity for utilities to meet that need is real,” noted McDonald.

Younger generations leading the green charge, willing to pay more

  • 80% of Millennials1 and 73% of Gen Z consumers said they were willing to pay more for clean energy; compared to 36% of Baby Boomers.
  • 16% of Millennial respondents have already bought or leased an electric vehicle, and 42% of Millennials and 35% of Gen Z consumers plan to do so in the next five years.
  • 29% of Gen Z and 26% of Millennials plan to install solar panels in the next 2-5 years.
  • 23% of Gen Z and 41% of Millennials noted they have already or in the next year would buy a smart thermostat and let it be controlled by their utility to curb energy use and costs.
  • 41% of Millennials noted they have already or in the next year would install a home battery or energy storage device, compared to 18% of Gen Z respondents.

“Younger generations are more willing to invest in cutting edge home technology, but coming out of the pandemic, cost remains a significant consideration,” said McDonald. “Utilities will need to balance the longer-term potential of these technologies with energy efficiency programs, which many utilities have adopted and deliver proven energy-savings results.”

Image Licensed by: Pixabay.com

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