‘Energy Efficiency’ versus ‘Home Improvement’

Posted by Energy Wire on May 20, 2015 at 11:21 AM

“We need to stop interrupting what people are interested in... be what people are interested in.” – Craig Davis

Have you ever looked up the definition for “energy efficiency”? Well if you do, you’ll find no definition on Dictionary.com... At least Wikipedia offers “energy efficiency may refer to efficient energy use, energy conversion efficiency, energy conservation.” (Though, we know these things to be different.)

The point? Energy efficiency is an industry term. It’s not mainstream. In general conversation, when do customers really talk about energy efficiency? Scenarios include:

  • Looking to buy or rent a house. They say, “What does the current resident pay in utility bills?”
  • Looking to purchase new appliances or products for the home. They say, “Is it ENERGY STAR certified? Is it efficient? Tell me more about the features. Ooooh. Shorter dry time?!

As an advertising agency specializing in energy efficiency marketing and communications, we constantly conduct customer research on the topic. In a recent survey focused on homeowners, we heard:

“It’s not about energy efficiency. It’s about improving my home.”

Change your dialogue. Make the benefits of your programs or products relatable to the lives of your customers. What are they already interested in? Find it and tap into it.

According to Simmons, customers are interested in home improvement. On average, there are the same amount of Google searches for “home improvement” as for “apparel.” On top of that, Nielsen reports that HGTV is in the top 10 channels watched during Primetime.

Our research tells us that 60% of Americans actually enjoy taking on home improvement/D-I-Y projects. So, why did only 18% of Americans participate in E.E. utility programs last year? And why did over half report making no E.E. improvements in the last 12 months?

We need to connect the two and make it clear that energy efficiency improvements are home improvements. Maybe we should even consider nixing the term “energy efficiency” altogether and replacing it with “home efficiency” or “home improvement.” Talk to customers about what they’re already interested in – what they see value in.

Utilities might take a cue from Lowe’s Home Improvement, which has done an incredible job making home improvement fun. For proof, just check out Lowe’s very entertaining and instructive home improvement videos #lowesfixinsix on Vine.

KSV has more than a decade's experience communicating about energy efficiency programs and products. Maybe we can help you. Get in touch with Lauren Bell to talk about your current challenges and opportunities, and we'll work on some solutions.

KSV's consumer research has also been featured on Utility Dive, Fortnightly, Energy Central, Intelligent Utility and Energy Efficiency Markets. 

Related article: Customer Perceptions of “Energy Efficiency” May Surprise You.

Lauren Bell / Engagement Manager / lbell@ksvc.com / 802.862.8261

Topics: Customer-Centric Marketing, Utility Communications, Energy Efficiency