It’s often assumed that homeowners care more about energy efficiency opportunities than renters, but a new report, released October 30, 2017, from the Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative (SECC) shows that actually, homeowners and renters have similar feelings about efficiency.
However, renters often feel that it’s not possible to make energy-efficient improvements to their homes, nor can they ask their landlords for upgrades. This presents a unique opportunity for businesses, government, and utilities to take action to engage with the renting community.
Homeowners vs. Renters
According to the report, homeownership is dropping across the US, down to just 63.7%, which is lower than in 1996. This means that almost a third of the population is renting a home, so energy and water efficiency measures (from private sector or from utilities) must take into account the individual needs of the renters and their landlords/owners.
The report found that renters’ interest and knowledge levels were similar to those of homeowners across 18 energy-related concepts in three categories: savings opportunities, utility programs and offerings, and energy-related technologies.
Select Findings of the Report
Renters are interested in efficiency opportunities, but their unique needs have to be met. The concepts that appealed most broadly to renters included “Energy usage reports” and “energy savings suggestions delivered via an app or website.”
The report states, “Among the three program concepts, two programs focused on shifting energy usage to off-peak times in exchange for bill credits or rebates and one program offering incentives for home energy visits with discounts on energy efficient appliances — ” both of which provide “opportunity for new areas of consumer engagement for energy stakeholders.”
But otherwise the survey data showed that renters and homeowners had similar responses to many of the opportunities, including where you might not expect, like in willingness to pay for efficiency and Smart Grid benefits. However, homeowners were much more likely to participate in energy-related programs, like efficiency audits, rebate programs, and appliance recycling.
Some of the recommendations from the report for utilities to better engage renters include the following:
- Start small: Promote online billing and payment to drive more renters to your website
- Leverage interest in thermostats as a gateway to engage with both renters and landlords
- Tap renter interest in peak time savings/rebate programs
- Help renters manage their devices’ electricity usage
The data in this report can help private sector efficiency companies better tailor their offerings to the rental community, and can guide them as they approach their program design and marketing strategy, but it can also help policy makers as they design efficiency plans for the city/state. And of course, as utilities undertake more efficiency programs, the needs of all residents — homeowners and renters — need to be accounted for in a way that meets the needs of all residents and meet the energy goals of the state.
To get the full report you have to sign up with name and email, but you can also watch the video below to get the summary report ‘live.’
The Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative is working for a consumer-friendly, consumer-safe smart grid. Its mission is to serve as a trusted source of information for industry stakeholders seeking a broad understanding of consumers’ views about grid modernization, electricity delivery and energy usage, and for consumers seeking an understanding of the value and experience of a modern grid.