Vice president, strategy and marketing, Opower, Arlington County
An excerpt from Washington Post Live’s recent Smart Energy conference.
We believe that spontaneous consumer demand hasn’t materialized for energy-efficiency products [because] consumers do not know how efficient or inefficient their home is. If you compare this to the auto industry, it’s dramatically different. Whether you’re driving a Prius or a Humvee, and you know exactly to a cent how much a gallon of gas costs and your mileage per gallon. If you look at the residential energy sector, in particular, people have absolutely no idea.
A study back in 2003 showed that door-hangers left on homeowners’ doors urging saving money or doing good for the environment or for the community through energy-use reduction did little. But [another] message, about what their neighbors were doing to reduce energy waste, led to a 6 percent drop in consumption. There’s need or desire by customers not to deviate from what is normal in their neighborhood. So I think there’s vast potential to motivate consumers to take action for reasons other than financial.