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Reducing energy use by buying energy-efficient products 

The challenge: How do we make consumers more receptive to buying energy-efficient products when building?

Partner: Ergon Energy

Year: 2012

Ergon Energy operates the regional Queensland electricity network and supplies electricity to homes and businesses in the region.

Managing peak demand helps Ergon Energy manage and maintain the electricity network. Making sure that new houses are designed and constructed with energy efficiency in mind is a key tactic to support this.

Ergon Energy recognised that consumers need to make a large number of decisions when building or purchasing a new home and wanted to better understand the behaviour around these decisions to help them plan future communication and energy efficiency interventions.

What did we do?

We worked with the team in Ergon Energy’s Department of Marketing to understand consumer decision-making when building a new home, as this is the stage when people are most engaged and receptive to buying energy-efficient products.

Together we conducted interviews and surveys with home buyers to:

– map their decision-making processes

– develop a model of this decision-making processes

– make recommendations on communication messages, channels and interventions to influence these decisions.

What did we find?

Although the process of building a house is complex, for consumers the decision-making process breaks down into a few broadly-defined decision stages. 

Our research into these stages showed that people often don’t think about energy-efficiency until the choices that have the biggest difference (such as where they are going to live, the size of the home and orientation on a plot) have already been made.

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We found that there are key knowledge points where consumers engage more actively in decisions and often need support.

Indeed, land, house design, colour, solar panels, landscaping, pools, floor tiles, lighting and appliances are the areas where consumers need the most help, and where Ergon Energy could make the most difference.

Based on these insights, we presented communication channel and messaging options to Ergon Energy.

These recommendations included building relationships in the home building supply chain, working with builders to provide energy conserving home designs and providing a ‘one-stop’ information service for consumers where they can discuss and compare their options.

Application

The insights from this research have helped Ergon Energy shape a program of communications with partners and customers.

A key initiative had been to develop informative handbooks giving home owners practical information to help with the more difficult choices around energy efficiency, such as orientation, design and appliance selection.

Find out more about mapping the decision making processes of new home buyers.