Much has been written in recent times on consumer attitudes towards investing in energy efficiency retrofits, a recent GTM article http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/Can-Home-Energy-Efficie... does hit the nail on the head. 

Share your own experiences; is differentiating between investing in Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy a perception problem and a communication issue. in your experience do customers receive real financial benefits post their Energy Efficiency investments. 

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The greentechmedia article seems to indicate that customers' attitudes are lukewarm towards energy efficiency improvements, which sounds right - there's proven awareness, but maybe because it's not as crucial to them day to day as having a phone or eating dinner, it's not a priority.

I get the feeling that the perception problem of energy efficiency investment is that customers come to it from a wide variety of reasons, from improving comfort to improving indoor health, to smart investing, to peer pressure, to conservation (and more)? It seems like the communication issue is that, because of the wide variety of motivators, an upgrade mostly comes out of person to person interactions, whether it comes in the form of calling an efficiency organization, talking to a professional at a trade show, discussing an assessment report with an assessor, or talking to a contractor during equipment maintenance/repair?

Our customers typically receive 25-30% in bill savings financial benefits - here's some personal-information-removed case studies from upgrades to a Cincinnati neighborhood showing typical results (http://greatercea.org/resource-center/reports-and-case-studies/) and some overall impact figures (http://greatercea.org/wp-content/uploads/GCEA_annual_report_web_02_...), but from most messaging information I've read, the financial side is a secondary motivator, and is subordinate to the comfort/health/investing/conservation/peer aspects.

Does this help to answer your questions?

Joshua,

My experience has taught me a couple of things regarding Energy Efficiency projects:

  • most EE investments are reactive - hey my house is too cold in the winter or too warm in the summer - which leads to an upgrade/replacement of Windows, HVAC, Insulation etc. This is where the comfort factor trumps everything else!
  • EE investments are not preemptive - most savings like a 30%-40% reduction in energy costs post-investment do not realize due to faulty assumptions by the contractor hence. 

Note this is not a refection on all contractors - but a general consensus on tracking EE efficiency gains to justify investment ROI.  

Comfort trumping all makes sense.

After asking around, from our post-retrofit data from a 200+ home sample, the average energy savings for multi-measure improvements was @18%. The 25-30% referred to above was what I inferred from our case studies, which were more full-workscope oriented (which does not accurately describe the typical customer, as far as I can tell) - apologies. Dollar savings is probably too murky to be specific, so it makes sense that it plays a subordinate role to the other motivators.

Do you see any other significant motivating forces besides comfort?

Thank-you Joshua, there is a majority of customers who seek replacement/upgrades when the air-temp inside their home gets to feel 'uncomfortable'. 

There is a very small but growing minority who are conscious about environmental/efficiency gains and monitor their carbon footprint who are preemptive in their approach and make use of the many incentive programs out there to better their infrastructure. 

Well that's my experience, I am sure we have our own stories to tell. 

I wonder how often dissatisfaction or confusion has to do with overselling products rather than stopping with just performance improvements? 

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