"Consumers have concerns about home energy costs," said Chris Ely, a senior research analyst at the CEA, in a web cast presentation of the study. "Clearly, energy efficiency is a strong value proposition for them."
According to the study, about 75% of U.S. consumers have replaced a new appliance in the past five years, and about 40% of them replaced their old appliances with energy-efficient models. Over the next five years, 52% said, they plan to replace old television sets or computers with energy-efficient models.
As energy costs rise, consumers are increasingly looking at appliances and home electronics as solutions to saving money. According to the CEA study, 10% of U.S. households have conducted a home "energy audit" over the past two years. Of those who did, 61% replaced their appliances or consumer electronics devices with energy-efficient models.
"Energy efficiency is being factored into purchase decisions," Ely said. "There are many opportunities for manufacturers to reach consumers [with energy-efficient messages]."
After installing the new appliances and electronics, about a quarter of consumers expect to see cost savings of up to 20% on their utility bills. On average, people said they would need to see a 31% increase in their monthly home energy bills before seeking out technology options (such as smart energy meters, which provide information on optimum times to run appliances) that would help them. More than half (57%) said energy savings would come from an equal mix of behavioral changes and the use of new technologies, Ely said.
"The possibility of another rise in home energy costs provides consumer electronics manufacturers and electronic systems contractors with the opportunity to educate homeowners on technology and systems that maximize home energy efficiency," Ely said.
Although people have strong brand awareness of the EPA's Energy Star designation (84% said they recognized the term), only half are aware of terms such as "smart home" or "home automation," and only a third could identify five major companies that sell such technologies.
"Consumers are first turning to home improvement stores and utility companies for solutions," Ely said. "Manufacturers of energy-efficient products and systems should look for ways to increase their presence and work with these outlets to improve consumer awareness."
Recently, California utility PG&E launched a campaign (co-branded with Energy Star) to draw people's attention to televisions and computer monitors that would save electricity.