New research captures utility customers’ voices on energy amid pandemic

In video interviews, consumers across the U.S. and Canada share in their own words what they think about key energy issues today

The Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative (SECC), the leading nonprofit organization researching energy consumers, today released a new research project that illustrates consumers’ attitudes and values related to energy, smart home technology, their electricity providers and more during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The “Modern Customer Engagement Journey” research includes five videos and a topline report that were developed from more than 30 on-camera interviews recorded from June 15 to July 2 in the United States and Canada. These interviews focused on understanding the reasons behind consumers’ energy-related behaviors and decision-making at home and their views on their electricity providers, renewable energy and other important issues.

Key insights from the interviews include:

  • Consumers are increasingly engaged with energy-related products and technologies, and smart home products — particularly smart speakers, thermostats and lighting — feel particularly interesting.
  • After purchasing a first smart home device, consumers often have an appetite for more. Introductory products tend to be smart speakers, and once consumers are comfortable setting these up, they want to take the next step.
  • When consumers make appliance upgrades at home, energy efficiency is a key factor that they consider — along with smart capabilities. Moving is an important catalyst for reassessing devices and appliances.
  • Consumers often struggle with assessing the cost-saving potential of programs and say they need more transparency on the savings from their electricity providers.

The interviews also investigated the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on household energy usage. While many consumers expressed that their bills had gone up due to staying at home more, few have made significant changes as a result. Some have made small behavioral adjustments (e.g., turning off lights and adjusting the thermostat), and others noted that larger technology investments are on hold for the foreseeable future.

The five videos can be viewed on YouTube here, and a report highlighting the topline findings can be accessed here by both SECC members and the public.

There will be a 45-minute presentation about this research on Wednesday, September 23 as part of our virtual series, DISTRIBUTECH +. Learn about the virtual series here and register to attend Wednesday’s talk by Patty Durance, President and CEO of SECC.

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The Clarion Energy Content Team is made up of editors from various publications, including POWERGRID International, Power Engineering, Renewable Energy World, Hydro Review, Smart Energy International, and Power Engineering International. Contact the content lead for this publication at

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