IKEA is committed to ideas and strategies that promote a sustainable environment. It has teamed up with LG Chem to offer customers in the UK lower prices on rooftop solar and residential storage battery systems. It now sells a prefabricated grow house that can produce enough sustainably grown food to feed an entire community. And it has recently purchased 25,000 acres of forest in Alabama to provide sustainably grown lumber for its furniture products.
Now, the Swedish furniture chain is promoting a joint venture with Big Clean Switch to offer UK customers access to renewable energy at the lowest available prices. IKEA and Big Clean Switch claim they can save a typical British household as much as £300 (about $420) a year compared to what they are paying now. The program works like this.
Let’s say you want a new car. You pop into your local dealer and walk out with a shiny new Belchfire 5000 and go to work the next day to tell all your friends what a great deal you got on the car. Later, 5 of your friends go to the same dealer and offer to buy 5 new cars. Are they likely to get a better price on their cars than you did? Oh, yeah. You betcha.
Now assume a thousand people troop into a dealership demanding to buy new cars immediately. Will they get a deal that is better still? Count on it. Aggregating customers can do wonders when it comes to negotiating prices. According to The Guardian, Big Clean Switch describes itself as a company committed to “profit with a purpose” and guarantees its customers 100% of their electricity will be sourced from renewables such as wind, solar, or hydro.
Hege Sæbjørnsen, Ikea’s sustainability manager, says “we hope to make switching to renewable electricity simple, accessible and affordable to everyone.” And what does IKEA get out of doing this? A commission for each person who signs up, money the company says will be used to support local community initiatives within each store’s area. That is a version of capitalism totally at odds with the “greed is good” mentality of most American business corporations. In fact, IKEA could change its motto to “Green is good.”
Other aggregators are presently signing up customers in the UK. Will the IKEA/Big Clean Switch collaboration be able to save people more money than those other companies? We will know on March 6 when IKEA formally announces its renewable energy prices. If it has more customers clamoring for clean energy, it should have more negotiating power than any of the other players in the market, power that will make it possible to offer the lowest prices available.
The appeal for customers is simple — lower utility bills with no muss and no fuss. No solar panel installers tromping across the roof, no electricians fiddling with wires in the basement, no financing documents to fill out, and no higher property taxes to pay. It may be that rooftop solar will save families more money in the long run, but if you can get most of the benefits with none of the hassles just by clicking a few boxes on a website, why wouldn’t you?
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