5. Consumer Experience Since the ESI Activity

HP OpenmindCurrent status of the installed equipment

Most of the energy efficient equipment that was installed under the ESI is currently considered by the participating consumers to be "still working fully"; in less than one in ten cases is there any non-operational equipment, and in most such cases (primarily lighting) the issue is partial rather than a full loss of operation.

The extent to which functionality is an issue varies very strongly by product category:

  • Only for lighting is it a substantial issue, with one in five installations no longer working fully, although virtually all of these are only partial loss of function.
  • For the other three key categories, between 3% and 7% of participants report any non-working equipment.

This loss of function is in large part simply a matter of product life; while 13% of 2009 installations are no longer working fully, only 7% of 2010 and 2011 installations are affected in this way. However, this may to some extent also reflect the concentration of lighting installations in the initial year of the scheme's operations.

Chart 20. Working status of equipment installed under the ESI scheme

B1. Is the [ACTIVITY FROM QUOTA] equipment that was installed under the Energy Saver Incentive scheme still working?

Base: All respondents, n=1000

 A set of pie charts indicating whether equipment installed under the ESI scheme was still functional at the time of the survey. For low energy light globe installations, 80% said they were still working fully, 19% said they were still partially functional and 1% said they were no longer working. For more efficient water heaters, 97% said they were still working fully, with 3% indicating partial functionality. For more efficient heating, 96% said they were still working fully, with 4% indicating heating was still working partially. For a more efficient shower rose, 93% said they were still working fully, 3% still working partially, 3% no longer working and 1% did not know. The user base for insulation was too small for significant results. Across the total sample, 91% of respondents said the equipment installed was still working fully, 8% still working partially and 2% no longer working.

(Click on image to view a larger version)

Reasons for installed equipment not working

For the limited number of installations that are no longer working fully, product quality is the key reason cited by consumers, mentioned by more than half of those affected by a loss of product function. This factor was more than twice as frequently mentioned as "normal product turnover for this kind of device", that is, consumers believe that the products have worn out faster than they might have expected under normal circumstances. They therefore blame this on perceived poor product quality.

In contrast to the issue of loss of functionality per se, this issue of product quality appears to affect other categories more than it affects lighting:

  • Loss of operation for lighting was more likely to be blamed on "normal turnover" than was the case for other categories (37% compared to 25% of non-working installations).
  • While the sample size of non-operational products from each year is very small (between n=22 and n=46), there appears to have been an increase in problems related to product quality over time, from 54% in 2009, to 56% in 2010, and 64% in 2011. However, these shifts have not been statistically significant.

Chart 21. Reasons for non-operational equipment installed under the ESI scheme

B1. Is the [ACTIVITY FROM QUOTA] equipment that was installed under the Energy Saver Incentive scheme still working?

Base: All respondents, n=1000

 A bar graph chart indicating the percentages of various causes of failure for equipment installed under the ESI scheme. Percentages are indicated for low energy light globes, and for the total sample. Results for other equipment had too few respondents to be statistically significant. For the globes which failed, 50% were due to faulty or poor quality products or materials, 37% were due to normal turnover, 2% weren't installed properly, 5% failed for another reason and 11% of respondents did not know why they had failed. For the total sample, 57% of equipment failures were due to faulty or poor quality products or materials, 25% to normal turnover, 2% weren't installed properly, 9% failed for another reason and 11% of respondents did not know the cause of failure.

Replacing non-operational products

Most of the 93 surveyed consumers who have had installed products stop working, either partially or in full, have since replaced those products. This is even more marked in the case of lighting. Those who have not replaced the failed product/s cite a variety of reasons, but notably:

  • Cost;
  • Inertia ("not a big enough concern", "too much trouble/effort"); and
  • Delays in replacement or the recency of the product failure4.

Chart 22. Replacement of non-operational products installed under the ESI scheme

B2a. And have you replaced the[ACTIVITY FROM QUOTA] or had it re-installed?

Base: Respondents whose equipment was not working fully, n=93

B3. And which of the following reasons, if any, best describe why you haven't replaced the equipment?

Base: Respondents who did not replace equipment, n= 21

 A pair of pie graphs and a bar graph indicating whether equipment installed under the ESI scheme which failed was replaced or re-installed, and if not - why not. The pie graphs indicate whether equipment was replaced or re-installed for low-energy light globes, and the total sample, as all other activities had too few respondents for a significant result. The bar graph indicates the reasons given by those respondents who did not replace failed equipment. For failed low-energy light globes, 85% of respondents replaced them, while 15% did not. Over the total sample, 77% of failed equipment was replaced, while 23% was not. Of equipment which was not replaced, 29% of respondents said replacement was too expensive, 10% were not sufficiently concerned, 10% did not think it worth the effort and 57% did not replace equipment for another reason.

(Click on image to view a larger version)

Behavioural changes that have followed ESI activities

Across the four key product categories, participating households appear to have shifted towards more energy efficient behaviour since undertaking their ESI activities; the nett shift, taking into account both those who have shifted towards more careless patterns of behaviour as well as those who have responded in a positive way, ranges from +24 percentage points to +46 points amongst participating consumers. The overall shift is +35 points, resulting from 42% of participating households moving towards greater energy efficiency, and 7% moving to less energy efficiency.

That is, in the case of lighting, 50% of participating consumers claim to now make more effort to turn off lights when they are not needed, while only 4% leave lights on more now, because of the energy efficiency they have gained from installing low energy light bulbs. This results in a nett gain of +46 points who have moved towards greater energy efficiency post-ESI. That shift is, of course, in addition to the energy efficiency gain that resulted from the ESI activity itself, i.e. the installation of low energy light bulbs.

Other key findings in relation to these post-ESI behavioural shifts include the following:

  • The strongest nett gains in energy efficient behaviour can be seen amongst the 2009 cohort, with a nett gain of +39 points, compared with +32 points in the subsequent two years;
  • The small sample of tenants appear to have made less behavioural changes in response to the ESI activity that was initiated in many cases by their landlord (around +9 points nett gain);
  • Energy efficiency gains have been greater amongst older participants, rising from +19 points for 18-34 year olds, +30 points for 35-54 year olds, and +39 points for those aged 55 and over;
  • Lower income households appear to have shifted their behaviour more, with gains of +38 points for households earning less than $50,000 p.a., +33 points for $50-100,000 p.a. households, and +29 points for households earning over $100,000 p.a.; and
  • Larger households and those living in larger homes have made stronger energy efficiency gains - +44 points for households with 6 or more people, and +40 points for homes with 5 or more bedrooms.

For the four product categories, the nett energy efficiency gain is:

  • +46 points for lighting;
  • +30 points for water heating;
  • +28 points for shower roses; and
  • +24 points for space heating and insulation.

Chart 23. Household behavioural changes since ESI activity, by product category

B4. In which, if any, of the following ways would you say your household's behaviour has changed since [ACTIVITY FROM QUOTA] was installed?

Base: All respondents, n=1000

 A series of bar graphs indicating the ways in which respondents' behaviour had changed since installing equipment under the ESI scheme, one graph per category of equipment. In the case of fitting a low energy globe, 50% said they made more effort to turn of unneeded lights, 4% said the efficiency of the bulbs meant they could leave them on more, 1% said something else, and 45% reported no change in behaviour. In the case of water heating, 36% said they tried to use less hot water to conserve energy, 6% said they use more hot water now that the heating is more efficient, 4% said something else, and 54% reported no change in their behaviour. For installing a more efficient shower rose, 37% said they take shorter showers to conserve energy, 9% said they take longer showers now that the rose is more efficient, 1% said something else, and 53% reported no change in their behaviour. In the case of having installed space heating and insulation, 43% said they user heating / air-conditioning less to conserve energy, 19% said they use heating / air-conditioning more now that the house is more energy efficient, 3% said something else and 35% reported no change in behaviour.

(Click on image to view a larger version)

The decline in apparent nett gain in energy efficiency after 2009 discussed above is particularly apparent at the product level:

  • For lighting the nett change falls from +58 points for the 2009 cohort to +41 points for 2010 and +39 points for 2011;
  • For other categories the shifts are less clear, but are still apparent for water heating.

This finding in relation to cohort differences does not necessarily mean that the energy efficiency shifts in behaviour have weakened since the scheme started, but may simply indicate that such behavioural shifts emerge over time. Hence the 2010 and 2011 cohorts have not yet had enough time to undergo the sort of behavioural shifts experienced by the earlier cohort of installations.

This interpretation is supported, at least in part, by the timing that participating consumers attribute to their changed behaviour; more than three-quarters claim that the changes took place straight after the ESI activity, but another one in five say that the changes took longer to develop.

Chart 24. Timing of household behavioural changes

Base: Respondents who changed their energy saving behaviour, n=489

 A set of pie graphs indicating how quickly reported behavioural changes came into effect after installing new equipment under the ESI scheme, one for each category of installed equipment. In the case of low energy light bulbs, 71% of respondents said their behaviour changed straight after installation, 19% relatively soon after installation, 7% not for some time after installation and 3% did not know. For more efficient water heating, 74% of respondents siad their behaviour changed straight after installation, 13% relatively soon after, 6% not for some time after and 7% did not know. For a more efficient shower rose, 78% indicated behavioural change straight after installation, 15% relatively soon after, 3% not for some time after, and 3% did not know. For more efficient heating, 89% said their behaviour changed straight after installation, 7% relatively soon after and 4% not for some time after. In the case of insulation, the user base was too small for significant results. Over the total sample, 76% of respondents said their behaviour changed straight after installation of equipment, 15% relatively soon after, 6% not for some time after and 4% did not know.

(Click on image to view a larger version)

Household consciousness of energy efficiency since ESI activity

Overall, participating consumers claim to have shifted to a greater consciousness of using energy efficiently following their ESI activity; while 71% consider their household to be now more conscious of using less energy than they were, only 3% consider the household to have grown less conscious of energy efficiency.

This pattern of nett gains in energy efficiency consciousness is relatively even across the four key product categories. There were no other marked differences in this impact observed between the various demographic and other sub-groups within the sample of participating consumers.

Chart 25. Household consciousness of energy efficiency post-ESI installation

C5. Since [ACTIVITY FROM QUOTA] was installed, as a result, do you think that your household has generally become...?

Base: All respondents, n=1000

 Household consciousness of energy efficiency post-ESI installation This bar graph shows, 7 consciousnesses. Total Sample, 1% Don't know, 1% A lot less conscious about using less energy, 2% A little less conscious about using less energy, 27% No change in how conscious we are about using less energy, 35% A little more conscious about using less energy, 36% A lot more conscious about using less energy. Fitted low energy light globe, 0% Don't know, 1% A lot less conscious about using less energy, 1% A little less conscious about using less energy, 29% No change in how conscious we are about using less energy, 36% A little more conscious about using less energy, 33% A lot more conscious about using less energy. Installed more efficient water heating, 0% Don't know, 0% A lot less conscious about using less energy, 1% A little less conscious about using less energy, 27% No change in how conscious we are about using less energy, 33% A little more conscious about using less energy, 38% A lot more conscious about using less energy. Installed a more efficient shower rose, 1% Don't know, 1% A lot less conscious about using less energy, 4% A little less conscious about using less energy, 25% No change in how conscious we are about using less energy, 35% A little more conscious about using less energy, 34% A lot more conscious about using less energy. Installed more efficient heating 1% Don't know, 3% A little less conscious about using less energy, 24% No change in how conscious we are about using less energy, 31% A little more conscious about using less energy, 41% A lot more conscious about using less energy

General patterns of household energy efficiency

Consumers who have participated in the ESI scheme are, in the main, positive about their own efforts to use energy efficiently; more than two-thirds of them consider that they either "take every possible step to use less energy" or "do a lot...but there's always more we could do". While this pattern of confidence in their household actions is broadly similar across all ESI product categories, those who installed or upgraded water heating are the most positive, while those who installed or upgraded space heating are the least positive.

Chart 26. Rating of household efforts to use less energy

C4. And which of the following statements do you think best applies to you and your household?

Base: All respondents, n=1000

 Rating of household efforts to use less energy. This bar graph shows 5 ratings. Total Sample, 1% Don't know, 1% We do nothing to use less energy, 2% We do very little to use less energy, 29% We do some things to use less energy, but we could probably do more, 39% We do a lot of things to use less energy, but there's always more we could do, 29% We take every possible step to use less energy. Fitted low energy light globe, 1% We do nothing to use less energy, 3% We do very little to use less energy, 29% We do some things to use less energy, but we could probably do more, 38% We do a lot of things to use less energy, but there's always more we could do, 30% We take every possible step to use less energy. Installed more efficient water Heating, 1% Don't know, 1% We do very little to use less energy, 25% We do some things to use less energy, but we could probably do more, 40% We do a lot of things to use less energy, but there's always more we could do, 33% We take every possible step to use less energy. Installed a more efficient shower rose, 1% Don't know, 1% We do nothing to use less energy, 3% We do very little to use less energy, 32% We do some things to use less energy, but we could probably do more, 37% We do a lot of things to use less energy, but there's always more we could do, 27% We take every possible step to use less energy. Installed more efficient heating 1% We do very little to use less energy, 38% We do some things to use less energy, but we could probably do more, 47% We do a lot of things to use less energy, but there's always more we could do, 14% We take every possible step to use less energy.

For most participating households, their energy saving activities outside of the ESI activity tend to be of a simple and low up-front cost nature:

  • Trying to create less waste;
  • Turning appliances off at the wall;
  • Having shorter showers; and
  • Installing low energy light bulbs (excluding the ESI activity).

The three activities with the lowest claimed participation are all activities with higher cost impacts, namely installing solar panels, buying GreenPower, and installing a solar hot water system. While over 60% are engaged in the simpler, lower cost activities, only 15-30% are taking on the more costly actions.

That said, they are quite active in pursuing energy efficiency, claiming to do an average of 5.9 of 14 separate activities presented to them.

Chart 27. Current energy saving activities (outside of ESI) that households undertake

C3. Which of the following activities in relation to energy use (other than participation in the ESI), if any, do you currently do, or have done in the last 2 years?

Base: All respondents, n=1000

 Current energy saving activities (outside of ESI) that households undertake. This bar graph shows 12 activities. Consciously try to create less waste 85%, Routinely turn appliances off at the wall when not using them 74%, Have shorter showers to save hot Water 74%, Buy energy efficient appliances 73%, Install low energy light bulbs 64%, Adjust the heating/cooling thermostat to reduce energy use 64%, Insulate your house 42%, Walk/ride/car pool/use public transport 42%, Install a solar hot water system 29%, Buy GreenPower 19%, Install solar panels for electricity 18%, None of these 1%

Although participating households are clearly doing a great deal in relation to saving energy and increasing their energy efficiency, they also perceive limits to their capacity to do more, citing a range of reasons for this:

  • Cost;
  • A belief that business should be doing more;
  • A lack of information;
  • Insufficient time;
  • A perception that the benefits wouldn't outweigh the costs, or be worth the effort required; and
  • A sense that doing more isn't a priority for their household, or others generally.

These reasons vary little between different groups of participating consumers, and particularly between those undertaking the four key ESI activities.

Chart 28. Reasons for not undertaking more energy saving activities

C6. I'm going to read out a list of reasons that people have given for not taking more steps to use less energy. Please tell me which, if any, apply to you and your household as reasons why you have not taken any further steps to undertake energy saving activities.

Base: Respondents who exert more or less effort to use less energy, n=707

 Reasons for not undertaking more energy saving activities. This bar graph shows 9 reasons. Can't afford to 41%, Businesses should be saving energy more than households 29%, Lack of information on what to do 24%, Lack of time 23%, Benefits not worth the cost 23%, Not a priorty for our household 18%, Lack of information on what to do 24%, Lack of time 23%, Benefits not worth the cost 23%, Not a priority for our household 18%, Benefits not worth the hassle and effort 15%, Seems pointless as others aren't doing enough 10%, None of these 16%

Broader attitudes towards energy efficiency

Participating consumers express attitudes towards energy efficiency that are highly positive:

  • They believe that their personal efforts do make a difference, and are not a waste of time and money;
  • They feel good about what they have done, and sense that a lot of people are making similar efforts;
  • They recognise the economic benefits to them of undertaking energy saving actions; and
  • They feel that they could do more if government provided more information and more financial incentives.

Chart 29. Personal attitudes towards energy saving activities

C7. Now I'm going to read out several statements that people might make about their own personal efforts in relation to energy efficiency. As I read out each one, could you please indicate how much the statement applies to you, using a scale from 0 to 10, where 0 means that it doesn't apply to you at all, and 10 means that it applies to you completely?

Base: All respondents, n=1000

Personal attitudes towards energy saving activities. This is a bar graph with different attitudes. Question: I just can't see that any actions that I take in relation to energy efficiency will really make any difference overall, Total Sample Don't know 2%, Does not apply (0-3) 57%, Neutral (4-6) 20%, Applies (7-10) 21%. The Mean is 3.3.

Personal attitudes towards energy saving activities. This is a bar graph with different attitudes. Question: I think that taking personal action on energy efficiency is a complete waste of my time and money, Total Sample, Don't know 1%, Does not apply (0-3) 73%, Neutral (4-6) 13%, Applies (7-10) 13$. The Mean was 2.2.

Personal attitudes towards energy saving activities. This is a bar graph with different attitudes. Question: I feel very good about the actions that I have been taking to reduce my energy usage, Don't know 1%, Does not apply (0-3) 5%, Neutral (4-6) 24%, Applies (7-10) 70%. The Mean was 7.5.

Personal attitudes towards energy saving activities. This is a bar graph with different attitudes. Question: I get the sense that lots of people are doing things about energy efficiency and I should do likewise, Total Sample, Don't know 2%, Does not apply (0-3) 16%, Neutral (4-6) 31%, Applies (7-10) 51%. The Mean was 6.3.

Personal attitudes towards energy saving activities. This is a bar graph with different attitudes. Question: Improving my energy efficiency helps me to offset any increase in my energy bills, Total Sample, Don't know 2%, Does not apply (0-3) 13%, Neutral (4-6)22%, Applies (7-10) 63%. The Mean was 7.0.

Personal attitudes towards energy saving activities. This is a bar graph with different attitudes. Question: If the Government provided more financial incentives I would do more, Total Sample, Don't know 2%, Does not apply (0-3) 11%, Neutral (4-6) 17%, Applies (7-10) 71%, The mean was 7.6.

Personal attitudes towards energy saving activities. This is a bar graph with different attitudes. Question: If the Government provided more financial incentives I would do more, Total Sample, Don't know 2%, Does not apply (0-3) 11%, Neutral (4-6) 17%, Applies (7-10) 71%, The mean was 7.6.

Summary

Up to two and a half years after the introduction of the ESI, almost all installed products are continuing to function properly; the typical consumer experience is therefore one of a functional upgrade to their energy efficiency. However, where products have stopped working, product quality is blamed in a majority of cases, and particularly when normal product wear-out (e.g. for light globes) is taken out of the equation. Most of those affected have since replaced the worn-out or faulty product, apart from where cost, inertia, or delays on the part of APs have precluded them from taking such actions.

There are clear indications that participating households have changed their behaviour in relation to saving energy. Despite the potential for the installation of more energy efficient products to lead to more careless behaviour (e.g. leaving lights on because they now use less power), far more consumers have shifted further towards energy efficiency. These compounding energy efficiency gains have been more concentrated amongst older, lower income, and larger households, where the economic impetus to behaviour change might be expected to be stronger.

Beyond the specific ESI activity in which they were involved, consumers appear to be active in pursuing energy efficiency, undertaking almost half of an extensive set of actions presented to them (albeit with a focus on more simple and less costly actions). Their main limitations on doing more are primarily economic, but they also express concerns about a lack of information, and scepticism about the nett benefits of upgrading. Both of these are potentially able to be addressed by a combination of government communications and AP marketing.

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Page last updated: 24/06/20