Focus Should be on Consumer Practices

Dr Anca-Diana Barbu, Project Manager for Energy and Environment, European Environment Agency
Published: Wed 16 Oct 2013

Countries are struggling to meet energy efficiency targets because they are placing too much focus on energy consumption. Instead, more focus should be placed on consumer practices in order to understand how best to achieve energy efficiency. Many aspects affect consumer behavior-technology, economics and culture, to name a few. All of this affects needs, opportunities, and abilities surrounding energy efficiency. However, these aspects are dynamic and change regularly. Currently, consumer behavior and consumption requires more resources and is creating more environmental damage.

Therefore, policy-makers should focus on consumption practices instead and stakeholders should be included and involved from the very beginning. The focus must be broadened significantly. Also, the way in which consumption data is conveyed is of utmost importance. For instance, smart meter projects should be viewed as energy efficiency projects instead.

In addition to this, consumers should have easy access to the information, they should understand it, and that they should feel empowered by it. Says Dr Barbu, ““Consumers want to know that their actions mean something and that they are not the only ones doing it.”

She adds that consumers have differing needs and perceptions of things and these must be taken into account when reaching out to the consumer. It is important to understand your customers’ needs first and then the process of segmentation can begin since not everyone has the same situation or habits.

Utilities should also find various ways of communicating with different age groups. Innovativeness like gaming is guaranteed to help utilities engage better with the consumer.