EXTRA – More consumers cutting energy use

As the economic downturn lingers, more U.S. consumers are taking steps to reduce electric bills, according to a recent study by the Deloitte Center for Energy Solutions. Eighty-three percent of consumers polled took steps to cut electric bills over the past year, versus 68 percent in 2011.

Although 77 percent believe they have already done everything possible to keep electric bills down, roughly the same number of respondents had received “good tips on how to save energy”—of those, 56 percent had received tips from their electricity providers, and 64 percent received them via word-of-mouth from relatives, friends, co-workers and neighbors.

Consumers are relatively optimistic about maintaining energy efficiency in the future: 65 percent plan to use the same amount of electricity in the future, 28 percent believe they will use less and only 8 percent think they will use more.

A growing number of respondents aged 22–35 (considered “Generation Y”) are interested in emerging energy technologies. Thirty-five percent would likely buy a smart energy application for their mobile device, up from 28 percent in Deloitte’s 2011 survey. Thirty percent are “extremely interested” in electric vehicles, and nearly one half of those in the age group (48 percent) are “very interested” in residential solar panels.

Other key points from the survey indicated:

• Consumers have a strong, though dwindling, interest in renewable energy investments. Fifty-six percent would like their electric utilities to invest in solar and 55 percent support wind investments (versus 65 percent and 64 percent in 2011, respectively).

• Twenty-six percent of consumers would like their electric utilities to invest in natural gas, up from 20 percent in 2011.

• Roughly two-thirds would be willing to support renewable energy investments with a mandatory surcharge on electric bills. Of those, 66 percent are willing to pay a 2-percent surcharge; half are willing to pay a 4-percent surcharge.

More information on Deloitte’s 2012 reSources survey, conducted with market research firm Harrison Group, is available on Deloitte’s website, http://www.deloitte.com/.

Energy-Conscious Businesses

As part of its 2012 reSources survey, Deloitte interviewed senior executives and surveyed more than 600 business decision makers to gauge how businesses are managing energy resources.

Commitment to energy management has intensified over the past year, with 90 percent of companies now having set goals regarding electricity and energy management practices, according to the study.

Cutting costs is still the primary motivation for businesses to practice energy management at 66 percent, although 56 percent of companies reported internal motivations as the reason. On average, companies are targeting reductions of 23–24 percent over a three- to four-year period across electricity, natural gas, carbon footprint and transport fleet. Energy management is also being increasingly seen as a key to competitiveness, with 85 percent of businesses viewing reducing electricity costs as essential to staying competitive financially.

– As reported in CFC Solutions