22 Apr 2010 11:04:07
Is information overload on energy-efficiency leading to consumer distrust?
The issue of energy-efficiency has leaped into the public consciousness in recent years. Consumers are being bombarded with advice about the best way to save electricity, save money and save the planet.
But has this onslaught of information left many members of the public sceptical about the quality of advice being given? The results of a new survey would suggest that this indeed is the case.
Over 9,000 consumers in 17 countries took part in the study, conducted by Accenture, which aimed to identify the changing attitudes relating to energy-efficiency.
At first glance, the results seemed positive. Three-quarters of those who took part said they thought they knew how to "optimise" their energy consumption, for example by operating their appliances at off-peak times.
However, under the surface it was revealed that many harbour a distrust for the companies supplying their electricity.
Globally just 29 per cent of those asked said they trusted their energy supplier to provide them with information about how to best use their electricity. This figure was even lower in the UK.
Britain's consumers were shown to be the third least trusting, behind Germany and Sweden, with just 17 per cent believing their provider could offer them valuable advice.
Trust in retailers, manufacturers and communications firms was shown to be even lower at 13 per cent, with trust in online sources being slightly higher at 20 per cent.
Accenture also analysed the views of the respondents to energy-management programmes, which would allow providers to remotely limit the amount of power supplied to houses.
Concerns raised about these schemes include issues with privacy, as many did not want their energy consumption viewed, and energy companies profiteering.
However, what worried consumers the most is a possible increase in their electricity bills. Almost half said this would be their main reason for not joining a scheme.
It could be too early to write off education as the best way to switch consumers on to energy efficiency, especially as all political parties are currently running round the UK telling people how important green issues are.
But they say that money talks and the question is, is that the only way to get the public to listen?