Not since homes were first electrified 100 years ago has residential energy witnessed such a transformative moment. The best way to make sense of all this change is to look at the data: from our customers, from the industry, and from Schneider Electric’s own research.
In this spirit, we convened a panel with two residential energy experts at Innovation Summit Las Vegas to share their original research. These experts include Dan DiClerico, the Good Housekeeping Institute’s (GHI) highly regarded Home Improvement & Outdoor Director, and Spencer Fields, Strategic Lead, Technology and Product Alliances of EnergySage, the solar industry’s first and only online comparison-shopping marketplace for solar.
Schneider Electric has partnered with both these organizations, along with Green Builder, to conduct consumer research on the new energy landscape. In this article, I’ll extract and unpack the “juiciest” findings to help you make sense of this pivotal moment.
Finding #1: The smart home is definitely trending.
The smart home has come a long way since the first use of the term “smart home” in 1984 by the National Association of Home Builders. Back then, we all thought parachute pants were a smart, revolutionary thing, too, but that’s another story. In any case, we’ve made leaps and bounds. Schneider has found in its own research, as mentioned at Innovation Summit, that 35% of homeowners say that smart-home technology is more important now after the pandemic.
Fortunately, the industry is poised to meet this newfound demand. Truly integrated smart homes have arrived. The Good Housekeeping Institute has found that 30 – 50% of homes now have at least one connected device. But, as DiClerico pointed out, “Smart home technology is not just about gadgets; it’s about being integrated into every corner” of a home. In other words, the new standard for smart homes isn’t a single voice assistant or smart device; it’s interconnecting the full home by digitizing and electrifying energy, from attic to basement. That electrification idea brings me to my next takeaway.
Finding #2: Electrification is going mainstream.
Electrification was well represented this year among the Good Housekeeping Institute’s 2022 Home Renovation Awards. DiClerico explained that GHI was looking for examples of “how smart home technology can be integrated in the bones of the home instead of as just a gadget that shows up at your door in a box.”
“About 50% of submissions were electric in some way, and 30% had actual connectivity,” DiClerico said.
Innovations recognized by GHI include preventable maintenance technology, remote advanced diagnostic products, EV chargers, solar roof shingles, sensors that can detect plumbing leaks, and more. It is worth mentioning to homeowners that the Inflation Reduction Act includes robust tax incentives for some electrification projects — yet another indicator that electrification is going mainstream due to its climate-friendly benefits.
If you’re looking for a way to integrate digital intelligence into the essential functions of the home, I’ve got a shameless plug for you. The Good Housekeeping Institute announced that Schneider Electric’s smart switches were among the product and services award winners. Our new smart switches are Wi-Fi connectable and bring digitized electricity and energy monitoring to any device that plugs into them.
Finding #3: Once consumers dip their toes in and see cost savings, they’re ready to dive deep.
For many consumers, they need to experience smart devices to believe in their potential.
After polling consumers, we at Schneider discovered that, “The people who have smart home technology were willing to spend more on smart home technology because they saw the value of it.”
Following the logic of free samples, perhaps this finding presents an opportunity for you to offer a promotional smart device, say a smart thermostat, as a door-opener for larger-scale smart home projects.
EnergySage research supports this idea. As Spencer Fields mentioned, “91% of people who begin their energy journey with a smart thermostat are going to purchase something else (or already did).” Fields agreed with DiClerico in that, “It’s not just a gadget; it’s enabling technology.” Indeed, smart home technology is beginning to drive the industry forward.
Saving money is a huge driver for homeowners to dive deeper. In fact, Fields notes that with solar panels in particular, consumers want to save money. In his own personal experience of upgrading a 19th-century brownstone, Fields has not paid an electricity bill in three years, thanks to solar.
Guiding the electrification journey
It’s a new era for the residential energy industry. With change in the air, your customers need advice — from navigating the reimbursement opportunities of new tax incentives and rebates — which 56% of consumers are aware of in terms of clean energy incentives — to helping homeowners manage the complexities of electrification.
There certainly is a golden opportunity here to speed up the residential energy transition. Through Green Builder’s research, we found that 46% of homebuyers are looking for smart homes. Millennials in particular are more willing to pay for smart energy management and technologies that help them build net-zero homes.
I’ve highlighted a few of the top research findings here, but there’s plenty more to know to help you become the go-to homebuilder, solar installer, or contractor for your clients’ smart-home journey.
For more research takeaways that will make you a “smart home strategist,” download our new “3 Opportunities to Expand Your Business in the New Energy Landscape.”