Survey: Australians tired of being left in the dark on energy use

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Australian consumers are hungry for more information from energy companies to help them better understand and control household power use.

 Rising energy costs are driving increased energy awareness among consumers and simply providing comparative data with other households is no longer considered good enough.

 These are among the key findings from consumer research conducted by Essential Research and commissioned by Landis+Gyr, the global leader of integrated energy management solutions.

 Ambassador for this research project, George Maltabarow, Managing Director of Energy Australia from 2004 to 2012 said: “This research shows that far too many Australians feel powerless in their engagement with energy companies. It tells us that consumer behaviour is changing. Many consumers understand that smart meters are being rolled out but they quite rightfully want to know what’s in it for them.”

More data and transparency

In a world where consumers manage so many parts of their lives from their smartphones using real time data, customer service expectations have increased. The research suggests there is a growing gap between what consumers are doing to reduce their power bills and what more can be done with advances in technology.

Almost 70 per cent of respondents would like energy companies to supply them with more information to better understand and control household energy use.  Most consumers (88 per cent) would like alerts when usage data suggests they have a faulty home appliance.

A similar number (85 per cent) want energy providers to recommend ways of reducing costs based on their personal energy use patterns.

This extends to energy consumption data for specific appliances, with 85 per cent wanting to know how much energy their air conditioners, pool pumps or dishwashers are using.

Energy literacy creates active citizens

Even though the Victorian smart meter roll-out took place nearly a decade ago and smart meter deployments are now in full swing across New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia, close to half of consumers surveyed do not feel they have the knowledge and skills to get the most out of smart meters. There is a desire among consumers to have a greater understanding of how this technology will help them make smarter energy decisions. Seven out of 10 (69 per cent) would like to know more about what they can do with a smart meter.

From an environmental perspective, 63 per cent of respondents agree that smarter power use is also part of the broader response needed to deal with climate change.

“The Power of Choice legislation has created a pathway for us to transition to a smarter energy future. We need to ensure consumers are aware of the benefits that smart technologies offer, including how they allow for more control over energy use and the impact on energy bills,” Maltabarow said.

“This level of control benefits the electricity grid and reduces the need for further investments in costly network infrastructure upgrades to manage peak loads. Ultimately, this will lower the cost of electricity bills for homeowners, creating a win-win situation for everyone.”

This research was comprised of a quantitative survey with 1,000 Australian consumers and qualitative interviews with focus groups in Melbourne and Sydney. The full consumer research report is available here.