Making homes more energy efficient is the most popular home improvement action according to 87 percent of consumers in a new survey by Schneider Electric, a leader in the digital transformation of energy management and automation. Other energy-related home improvements also ranked highly, with energy security coming second (85 percent), closely followed by cooling (83 percent) and energy independence (79 percent).

According to the findings of this annual survey, the impact of the recent global energy crisis on prices has prompted a surge in energy-saving behaviour across households. 72 percent of respondents said they reduced energy use during the winter of 2022–2023, with 77 percent of those doing so to lower energy bills, while one-third did it to reduce carbon emissions.

The survey, which polled over 1,000 people in Australia alongside 8,000 consumers across France, Germany, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States, also asked how consumers reduced energy use over the past 12 months. Forty-one percent said they had switched to LED light bulbs, 24 percent said they had begun measuring energy use at home, and 21 percent had installed solar panels.

Consumers play a key role in addressing the causes and impacts of climate change

The 2023 survey found that almost seven out of ten consumers recognise the importance of sustainability and addressing climate change, and 79 percent of respondents highlighted the importance of countries meeting national commitments. However, over half felt that the responsibility for reducing emissions lies with individuals.

While more than half (52 percent) of consumers consider it important to make their homes net zero in their lifetime, unfortunately, 37 percent felt this was unlikely that this would happen: a 4-percentage point increase compared to the 2021 survey. The cost of living is also the primary concern of consumers when asked about the consequences of a global temperature rise above 1.5°C, with 86 percent concerned about higher energy bills for heating and cooling.

Energy efficiency seen as key to tackling higher bills and climate concerns

Consumers view household energy use as a priority, with 67 percent seeking to reduce the amount of energy they use at home. Interest in technology to help monitor and reduce energy consumption is high. Over 60 percent of those surveyed want to track their daily energy usage and 38 percent view smart home technology as an easy way to reduce energy bills and 37 percent consider it an affordable way of reducing energy bills.

Despite ongoing financial pressure, households are willing to invest significantly in energy efficiency measures, with an average spend of 1,886 AUD planned in the next 12 months.

Smart and sustainable home solutions that help manage energy more efficiently are becoming popular. Consumers expressed a growing interest in smart thermostats and smart energy monitors, their popularity rising by 2 and 3 percentage points respectively compared to the 2021 survey findings.

The increased popularity of smart home solutions, such as Schneider Electric’s Home Energy Management Solutions, to automate and control energy production, storage and costs in homes, is also changing people’s perceptions about achieving net zero. Those surveyed who already own and use smart home technology today are almost twice as optimistic (41 percent vs 22 percent) about achieving net-zero emissions in their homes, compared to those who are yet to invest.

“With today’s fluctuating energy prices and growing concerns about the climate crisis, energy usage in the home is in the spotlight like never before. That’s why our survey is so fascinating. By talking to more than 9,000 consumers globally, we were able to gain valuable insight into the challenges, opportunities and key drivers associated with sustainability and energy efficiency in the home,” says Chris Kerr, Vice President of Home & Distribution and CEO Clipsal, at Schneider Electric, Pacific.

“What has been re-iterated is that behaviour change has long been instrumental in reducing energy bills, and carbon emissions. It’s encouraging to see consumers worldwide making lifestyle adjustments and home improvements that bring both individual and society-wide benefits. Despite the drop in net-zero optimism, many of those surveyed are passionate advocates for living more sustainably and Schneider Electric will continue to invest in home energy management solutions that allow households worldwide to achieve this.”