Five categories of residential energy consumers in U.S., study finds


Patty Durand,
Executive Director,
Atlanta, GA, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — November 17, 2011 – Residential electric consumers in the United States fall into five distinct segments that influence their willingness to participate in energy management programs, according to a new study from the Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative (SGCC).

These five profiles are:

  • “Concerned greens,” who are most protective of the environment and supportive of smart grid initiatives, and highly likely to participate in energy management programs (31%).
  • “Young Americans,” who don’t know much about smart grid but are interested in learning about its potential for environmental benefits and cost savings (23%).
  • “Easy streeters,” who have the highest income of any segment but are reluctant to change their personal behaviors (20%).
  • “DIY and save consumers,” who are frugal and have a do-it-yourself lifestyle, with their biggest concern in providing for their family, not global environmental issues (16%).
  • “Traditionals,” who are set in their ways and do not see the need for energy reform (11%).

Commenting on these findings, SGCC executive director Patty Durand said that utilities that take the time to understand each segment’s characteristics, attitudes, values and motivations can then engage their consumers successfully and provide the most appealing smart grid-enabled products and services.

“The day of the faceless rate payer gives way to a portrait of a real human being with a unique personality and distinct characteristics,” said Durand. “The results have the power to change the relationship between utilities and their customers.”

The SGCC’s Consumer Pulse and Market Segmentation Study was based on telephonic interviews with approximately 1,200 people randomly selected across the nation.

According to the study, about half of the consumers surveyed said they had never heard the terms “smart grid” or “smart meter” and another quarter said they had heard the terms but didn’t know much about what they mean.

However, after hearing basic explanations, more than two-thirds said they support the idea that their utility should start and work quickly to implement these technologies. Only about one in ten were opposed.

In addition almost half of the consumers said they would participate in TOU pricing, six in ten said they would participate in critical peak rebate, and two-thirds said they are likely to use smart meter data for energy management.

According to the study the continued low awareness of smart grid is a cause for concern, and a wide range of positive messages can be effective in increasing consumer support. Further, initial consumer interest in energy management, dynamic pricing, and demand response is evident, providing a potential foundation for smart grid acceptance.