Comparative analysis of good practice in the use of energy in Europe and the United States

Rexel recently ordered a study conducted by Opinion Way with a focus on, among other issues, energy use in France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States. Although variations are observed from one country to the other, it appears that good practice is gaining ground. Here is an overview of this overall positive trend towards more energy efficiency.

Energy efficiency, a significant consumer concern

National public discussion on energy transition reflects citizen concern over our energy future. French political scientist Stéphane Rozès goes as far as to say that French public opinion has acknowledged the relevance of the issue of energy transition. This increasing interest in energy policy indicates a major concern over energy efficiency among the population.  Most consumers see energy efficiency measures as a means to cut energy costs. 58% of respondents to the Opinion Way / Rexel survey fear a rise in energy prices unless action is taken to increase energy efficiency. Nowhere is this awareness more pronounced as in the UK, where 68% of respondents mentioned a potential rise in energy costs.

Progressive dissemination of good practices in energy use

Consumer awareness as regards energy efficiency issues includes practical steps towards energy optimization. According to the survey, 72% of respondents have made actual energy efficiency choices, from improving their homes to changing their lifestyles. Germans have been the most diligent, with 76% having taken such steps in the last five years. The British come last with 68% having made changes to their behaviours and living environment.

The use of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) comes first (64% of respondents) in the list of measures taken to improve home energy efficiency. 41% are reported to have undertaken wall, ceiling and window insulation works. Only 20% have installed energy-efficient heating and A/C systems and 11% a smart metre.

Promotion, information or incentives? How to foster good practice

The trend towards better practice is already underway: it is up to governments and energy providers to be part of it. Indeed, progress towards energy optimization can’t be achieved unless incentive and information policies are carried out. The survey shows that consumers trust the government to encourage energy efficiency: 49% of respondents think it behoves public authorities to take action (as well as, to a lesser extent, energy producers and electrical contractors). Consumers consider that the government has primarily an informative role to play in fostering the energy efficiency sector. According to the survey, what consumers expect above all is information on the efficiency of goods and services available on the one hand and advice as regards good practice on the other. This is especially true for US respondents, 55% of whom see the government as responsible for providing information on effective energy efficiency solutions. People surveyed in France, however, tend to consider that the government’s priority should be to subsidize the emerging energy efficiency sector.

Finally, most of those surveyed consider it is up to consumers to improve their home’s energy efficiency, with the assistance of energy providers.

The Opinion Way / Rexel Foundation survey demonstrates that good practice is spreading but needs active support from the government, energy providers and electrical contractors.

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