Middle-agers lead on using energy-saving devices, but overall adoption is low

Dive Brief:

  • A new survey conducted by the Association of Energy Services Professionals (AESP) and Essense Partners finds connected smart home devices save energy, but customer adoption rates remain relatively low.
  • Only 25% of consumers surveyed had at least one Internet of Things (IoT) device, the research found. And the trend is being led not by younger, more technologically-savvy consumers, but by middle-aged brackets, the research showed.
  • Smart thermostats are the most popular device, followed by in-home assistants like Amazon Alexa or Google Home, and then smart power strips.

Dive Insight:

The much-hyped smart-home will ultimately save money, but a survey if about 3,000 consumers and utilities finds adoption rates remain low. Only about 25% of homes have at least one connected device, and half of those are smart thermostats.

According to the survey, 12% of homes have a smart thermostat; 7% have a virtual assistant; followed by smart power strips (5%), smart washing machines (4%), doorbells (2%) and smart air conditioners (1%).

The survey also showed IoT product ownership is led by consumers in the two middle-age brackets: Customers aged 30 to 44 are most likely to own at least one IoT product, and those who are 45 to 59 are most likely to own multiple. Among owners of smart thermostats, 45% said the device had decreased energy usage; for air conditioners, 60% of owners said they saved energy. Smart power strips saved energy for 22% of customers.

“These devices are just on the cusp of becoming mainstream,” AESP President and CEO John Hargrove said in a statement. “Their ability to save energy is demonstrable, and consumers will be adopting more of them as they replace current devices and the Internet of Things becomes easier to manage and understand.”

Hargrove said the survey demonstrates that utilities have an opportunity to help consumers save energy “by coaching them through IoT device installations and understanding.” 

In addition to lowering energy consumption, utilities are also looking at connected-devices as a way to help manage the grid.

“Consumers are beginning to access that technology in various shapes and forms, and utilities are trying to understand how they can use these technologies in a way that helps them connect with customers and helps manage the grid,” Philip Mihlmester, executive vice president at ICF, told Utility Dive. “At the same time, utilities want to deliver value to their customers in a mutually beneficial way.”

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