The results of a Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative (SGCC) analysis of senior's attitudes toward the smart grid and related topics yielded some interesting findings. While U.S. seniors (55+) see saving money and reliability as worthwhile benefits of the smart grid, they are less likely than younger people to get involved in smart grid technologies and programs.
Seniors who participated in the survey appeared to be a little more knowledgeable about the smart grid and smart meters than younger participants (18-54), but those younger participants had a generally more favorable attitude.
For those seniors who had favorable attitudes toward smart meters, their primary reason was lower electric costs, while younger consumers found energy conservation more appealing.
The SGCC analysis, Consumer Pulse: Focus on Seniors, came up with what could be valuable insights for electric utilities into how they can best communicate with this segment of their customer base. For one, the analysis noted that 20 percent of seniors have no idea who to consider a "trusted source" for smart grid information. Also, seniors prefer more traditional media like television, print and radio over social media.
Another distinction the analysis makes regarding smart grid could be useful for utilities to know as well. A majority of consumers in both age groups said they support a rapid implementation of smart grid technologies, although many more in the younger group shared that sentiment. And it follows, as the analysis points out, that seniors as a group are more likely to object to rapid implementation.
Seniors may be less inclined to engage with smart grid technologies and programs, but there is a specific area where they do express an interest. Seniors are much less likely to participate in critical peak rebate and energy monitoring programs, but almost half said they would participate in critical peak rebates alone.
"There remain significant opportunities to engage and educate this vulnerable consumer segment," SGCC Executive Director Patty Durand said in a statement. "The analysis illustrates the importance promoting the understanding and benefits of modernized electrical systems to all stakeholders in the U.S. and being aware of which channels to engage which segment."
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