New Residential Customer Research In: Keeping Up with Customers

By Crystal Leaver on

Couple looking at bill

Last fall as part of our Primary Research program, Uplight surveyed 1,000 residential customers across the country, learning that while many customers are aware of energy saving resources, most haven’t acted yet and that high perceived personalization is correlated with higher satisfaction, engagement, and energy saving actions. 

We followed up with another annual survey this spring of 1,000 customers to compare responses and also gain more insights around serving low to moderate income, or LMI, customers. The good news? Utility trust and satisfaction has increased and is up 6% from last year.

While this upward trend is positive, awareness and uptake of utility programs can still be hit or miss. This year customers reported using email tips and time of use (TOU) rates more, but rebates and online home check-ups less. And 40% of customers said they were interested in TOU rates, but only 22% looked to see if they could change their rate. 

While rates of past and planned purchases for LEDs and appliances were relatively stable compared to last year, more customers planned to purchase smart power strips and plugs, smart thermostats, electric vehicles, and other renewable equipment than purchased them in last year–indicating these are on more customers’ wish lists. 

However, customers may or may not go to their utility for these items. They are looking to their utilities for advice or rebates for larger energy savings purchases, but to retailers for smaller, more everyday items–creating a big opportunity for utilities.

LMI customers, who are more adversely impacted by high bills, have lower awareness and use of energy saving programs. In the last year, 32% of lower-income customers reported struggling to pay an electric bill, three times the rate of higher-income customers. Yet fewer LMI customers said they went on their utility’s website for resources to reduce their bill, and only 17% have contacted their utility about a high bill or to ask for assistance in paying.

Finally, over half of customers (59%) were sometimes, often, or always surprised by the amount of their electricity bill–indicating they aren’t checking their energy usage between bills. Yet, 41% of customers were “very” or “extremely” interested in receiving high bill alerts, a tool to help customers adjust their energy usage earlier in the bill cycle. 

Download the eBook to learn more about the customer research and actions that utilities can take to continue improving utility trust and satisfaction while increasing awareness and participation in all programs, for all customers. 


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