Here is some promising news for electrical contractors and the entire industry: a study by the Rexel Foundation found that American consumers are driving the adoption of energy-efficient technologies. It also found that the United States has made great strides in becoming more energy-efficient and is well positioned for future growth in this sector.


Looking at the state of energy efficiency, the study found that 94 percent of ECs feel well positioned for energy-efficiency work. An overwhelming 98 percent would also recommend that today’s young electrical contractors specialize in energy efficiency. This confidence is supported by consumer findings showing that 75 percent of consumers have made energy-efficiency improvements to their homes in the last five years.


French survey company OpinionWay interviewed 2,021 American consumers aged 18 years and over, representative of the population. It also interviewed 100 ECs with 10 or fewer employees working in the residential sector.


By polling ECs and consumers, the study identified perceived disconnects between homeowners and industry participants, which can help address some of the key issues and effect change.


According to consumers, 92 percent of Americans agree that, if nothing is done to improve energy efficiency, the cost of energy will continue to rise. Eighty-three percent said that political tensions would increase as we become more dependent on other countries to provide our energy. And 78 percent agree that irreversible damage will be made to the environment.


But there is a strong desire to change. Seventy percent of consumers plan to make energy-efficiency improvements in the next five years. Solutions that ranked the most popular among consumers included LED lighting, insulation, occupancy sensors, and energy-efficient heating and air conditioning systems.


Data also showed that respondents aged 18 to 34, who have grown up with technology, are comfortable using newer, more advanced products and solutions.


Among the respondents, 76 percent said that a reduction in their energy bills was the primary reason improvements were made to their home. Concern for the environment ranked second at 35 percent. Ninety-three percent of American consumers also believe that, by upgrading to more energy-efficient products and solutions, the potential for cost savings to their energy bills is significant. 


When ECs were asked about the greatest obstacles for customers, 40 percent said the high price of energy-efficient products/new technology, 34 percent said limited disposable income/budget, and 28 percent said a poor understanding/awareness of the subsidies/tax incentives that are available. Forty-two percent of ECs felt that it was the role of the federal government to promote energy efficiency as a whole, followed by 38 percent saying it was the role of utilities/energy companies, and 25 percent said state or local governments. The importance of the government’s role was further highlighted by 78 percent of contractors who absolutely or somewhat agreed with the statement that, “if the government does not intervene by imposing strict regulations, consumers will not do a great deal to adopt energy-efficient solutions and the energy sector will not take off.”


Sixty-four percent of contractors said that knowing how to explain the use and benefits of products and technologies would help them to better advise customers in the future.