Quick Take: Survey people about what they watch on TV, and they answer "PBS." Put a box on their set that records what they actually do and the result is more like "Nutty Housewives of New Jersey."
In a similar fashion, Harris has asked consumers if they would use an energy dashboard and they predictably said "Yes." But give them that dashboard and... I remain convinced... they will quickly fatigue and stop visiting it. (Just look at the real-world results from existing Web portals, where few customers spend any time.)
Yes, customers want control, but they want cruise control... whether they admit it or not. - By Jesse Berst
A new Harris poll says almost half (48%) of the 2,056 people surveyed online would likely install and manage a computerized dashboard in their homes to control energy use and cut their power bills. But according to a company news release, Harris also says less than a third of that number is a more accurate reflection of how many people would follow through.
The 48% number sounds surprisingly high, particularly considering that many observers and industry analysts (including SGN) have repeatedly said consumers are not likely to adopt new energy saving technologies if they need to take the time to monitor and manage it. And Harris says 31% of survey participants said they are neither likely or unlikely to install the device and 21% are definitely unlikely to do so.
Also, Harris notes there's a world of difference between "would likely" and "very likely." While 48% would likely install a dashboard, only 13% are very likely to actually do it. As the company puts it, the high number is "a little soft."
"One reason this dashboard may work is that Americans would prefer to control their energy use," Harris says. The company gave survey participants a hypothetical: if they were given a maximum amount of energy for daily use that varies during peak use periods, 69% would prefer to manage how that electricity themselves.
But Harris also acknowledges that American families are generally doing the little things to conserve energy, like switching out incandescent light bulbs for fluorescents, turning off lights when they're not being used and looking for energy efficient appliances. They're just not wild about the added expense of installing wind and solar and energy dashboards in a still uncertain economy.
Jesse Berst is the founder and chief analyst of Smart Grid News.com. He consults to smart grid companies seeking market entry advice and M&A advisory. A frequent keynoter at industry events in the US and abroad, he also serves on the Advisory Council of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory's Energy & Environment directorate.
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