More than two thirds of consumers report being unwilling to spend more time or money on sustainable energy actions, despite high levels of energy sustainability awareness, as affordability and access perceptions hold back clean energy behaviors, according to a new global consumer survey released by professional services firm EY.
For the study, “Energy transition consumer insights,” EY surveyed nearly 100,000 residential energy consumers over three years, across 21 markets in regions including North and South America, Europe and Asia Pacific.
According to EY Global Energy & Resources Customer Experience Transformation Leader Greg Guthridge, the survey results highlight the urgency of addressing consumer apathy on energy sustainability, with consumer action described as “the driver of success of the energy transition.”
“Seventy percent of the outcomes of the energy transition depend on people changing their energy consumption, behaviors and lifestyles. But consumer fatigue is setting in, stalling confidence and stagnating progress.”
Overall, the survey found that while 65% of consumers reported knowing how to start making sustainable energy choices, the proportion of those with a good understanding of terms such as renewable energy and sustainability has remained stagnant over the past three years at only 26%, and only 31% said that they are currently willing to invest more time and money in sustainable energy actions. Similarly, while consumers report that they are interested in new energy products such as rooftop solar or electric vehicles, two thirds have no plans to invest in these over the next three years.
The study also found disconnects between government clean energy policy focus areas and consumer behavior. As an example, the report highlighted the growing policy focus in several jurisdictions on replacing gas boilers with heat pumps, while the survey found that only 11% of consumers reported that heat pumps are their first choice of investment in energy products over the next three years.
One of the key sources of reluctance to invest in clean energy, according to the report, is the rising energy affordability pressures facing consumers, with the survey finding that two thirds of consumers report being unable to absorb an energy bill increase of 10%, and only 30% saying that they are confident that their energy will remain affordable. EY’s Energy Consumer Confidence Index (ECCI) found that confidence scores have declined in nearly all markets over the past year, with the most significant drops in markets facing significant price volatility, including Australia, the Netherlands and the UK.
Another key factor holding back clean energy adoption, according to the report, was access, with only 33% of respondents reporting confidence that they can access clean energy options, and with renters and people on low incomes being two to three times less likely to be planning investments in new energy solutions.
“Consumer apprehension comes as we enter a new — more difficult — phase of the energy transition, all while dealing with higher energy prices, geopolitical volatility, and growing concerns around energy equity. While efforts on the supply side are gaining momentum, we need an even more fundamental shift in how we engage and encourage sustainable consumer behavior. Energy consumers want a clean energy future but need a broad range of support to make personal energy choices. Closing the gap between their interest and action will depend on energy providers, government, and the broader energy ecosystem working together to pull every lever available.”
Click here to access the report.