The global pandemic has disrupted many facets of our lives, including our relationship with our homes. We’re now spending more time—and using more energy—there than ever before. With this growing demand for household energy, we’ve seen a rise in carbon emissions and home utility bills. This is making it harder to fight climate change and continue the progress government and industry have already made. It’s critical we work to understand this issue, and what roadblocks and potential solutions exist.
That’s why Schneider Electric recently conducted a survey of consumers across the U.S., Germany, France and Sweden. The survey examined consumer attitudes around their homes and energy usage during the pandemic – identifying a disconnect between attitudes on responsibility.
Reducing CO2 is a Group Effort
The survey revealed that homeowners don’t realize the role their homes play in climate change. While the majority of consumers feel that carbon emissions are a threat, 88% of consumers place the most responsibility on either industrial facilities and transportation, not on their homes. Additionally, consumers expect business and government to reduce energy usage over themselves.
In reality, residential CO2 emissions are poised to soon become the top contributor globally, over transportation and industry. The pandemic has only exacerbated this. I have personally seen the effects – my family and have spent much of the pandemic locked down in our home in Hong Kong and over the three months of summer saw our bills double. In fact, research by renewable energy company Arcadia found that across the board electricity bills increased by 10% this summer due to increased time indoors. With winter fast approaching, and the need for heating kicking in, we’re not likely to see a relief.
Additionally, when the pandemic ends, we will still find ourselves on this unsustainable path. New home technologies, from IoT devices to EVs, are adding to increasing residential energy use. We must find a solution to decrease the strain on our grid and reduce our energy demand.
To do so, we must all recognize the role we play in CO2 emissions and take sustainability personally. We can’t rely on government or industry to do it for us. At Schneider Electric, we’re quickly working to develop smart home solutions that can help consumers reduce their energy usage and CO2 emissions without needing to sacrifice comfort.
We know that homes of the future must be fully sustainable. In our vision for the Sustainable Home of the Future, every household can store, view and manage their residential power using a single device, seamlessly integrated into the home, to provide peace of mind without lessening convenience.
Smart Home Products Drive Sustainability
While the survey determined that consumers don’t recognize the link between their homes and CO2 emissions, they are still concerned about their energy usage in relation to their bills. Almost half of consumers surveyed reported they have an interest in the cost savings attributes of smart home products. However, only around a third of consumers have opted to take steps toward energy efficiency that require a substantial effort or change in lifestyle, such as upgrading to energy efficient appliances and windows or using fewer electrical devices. This highlights the need for solutions that can integrate easily into daily life and provide a seamless user experience.
Luckily, consumers are willing to make small changes to reduce their usage. Already 70% of consumers have changed their behavior to turn off lights and devices at home to conserve energy. And, consumers are willing to invest in solutions that may help. On average, Germans are willing to invest about €3,194, Americans €2,615, Swedes €2,371, and the French €2,340 on energy efficient home improvements in the next three years.
It’s clear that we need to improve education around how residential homes contribute to carbon emissions and climate change. We also need to ensure we’re creating solutions that help consumers address these challenges and reduce their home energy use, without compromising security, ease of use or comfort. It’s also critical for builders to incorporate these solutions in new homes to incorporate sustainability right from the start.
Our vision for the Sustainable Home of the Future will help consumers gain more control over their home’s energy usage, making it easier to conserve resources and reduce the impact on the environment and their home energy bills. And while we’re not quite there yet, with everyone taking responsibility and working together, reining in home emissions and stopping climate change will be attainable. We just need to think “wiser.”
To learn more about our offering, visit us at our all-digital booth in CES this January. Get live updates here.