3 Lessons for Communicating the Value of Energy Efficiency
Energy efficiency programs and upgrades have the potential to save Americans thousands of dollars – but homeowners can be put off by the upfront costs. In this GreenBiz article, Mike Hower describes how he helped develop a communications plan for a PG&E pilot program that makes it easier for homeowners to finance efficiency upgrades.
(Hower was working as a fellow with the Environmental Defense Fund Climate Corps – learn more about that program here.)
Hower goes on to explain the top 3 lessons he learned about talking energy efficiency with residential customers. These lessons can be applied to other climate solutions as well.
1. Avoid framing the solution in polarizing terms like “green” or “environmental,” and instead focus on benefits everyone can appreciate, like comfort and cost savings.
2. When people take one type of climate-friendly action, it can lead them to rationalize other types of wasteful behavior. Hower gives the example of a customer installing an energy-efficient HVAC system and then running the AC constantly. To help avoid this, he suggests framing energy efficiency as a way to “take control” over their energy costs.
3. People can’t embrace something if they don’t know about it. Many consumers are happy to buy into an efficiency program once they are aware of it, so a good communication strategy is key.
By Mike Hower, senior writer at GreenBiz
Powering our homes and businesses isn’t cheap, and it has profound environmental impacts. The average residential monthly electric bill was more than $110 in 2013, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
During the hottest months of the year, home utility bills can spike to several hundred dollars in some regions due to increased need for cooling.
And there’s the climate change component — homes and commercial buildings account for 12 percent of the United States’ total greenhouse gas emissions, according to the EPA.
This comes from the large amounts of energy required for heating, cooling, lighting and other functions. On the commercial side, green building techniques and retrofits are allowing new and existing buildings to become more energy efficient, but there’s been less traction in the residential sector.
Image credit: Shutterstock / Mopic