How a behavioral science based customer engagement program can help the utility sector on its journey to net zero

Changing the way we heat our homes is going to be essential if the UK is to reach its Net Zero target. At the moment heating accounts for around a third1 of the UK’s carbon emissions and 77%2 of that figure derives from domestic heating, with the average house in the UK emitting 2.7 tonnes of CO23 each year, just through heating the property.

Whilst many households are switching to smart meters, green energy tariffs and other low-carbon initiatives, there is still a long way to go before the UK’s housing is carbon neutral. Households of all sizes and across all demographics will need to be supported to make low-carbon changes.

When the UK government legislated for Net Zero emissions by 2050, it accepted the need to decarbonize the way we heat our homes. It has set ambitious targets including the installation of 600,000 heat pumps per year by 2028, up from just 27,000 installed in 20182. Only this week did ministers unveil plans for a £450m commitment towards grants to replace boilers. The £5,000 grants will allow people to install heat pumps and other low-carbon boiler replacements as part of a wider heat and buildings strategy.

The route to sustainable energy changes

Recent progress in the area has fallen far short of what is needed. Too few houses are being insulated and too few households have switched to low-carbon heating technologies. The Green Homes Grant, launched in 2020, has been abruptly cancelled after complaints of poor delivery and an over optimistic time frame.

Work needs to take place now to dramatically speed up the decarbonization of domestic heat and that needs to involve educating and supporting households across the country, to change behaviors and adopt low-carbon initiatives and technologies.

That’s because, despite widespread public support for action on climate change, relatively few people understand the required changes to their homes.

The appetite for change

In a report by Nesta that examines consumer attitudes towards energy efficiency and green heating, and the barriers to adoption, there is a clear and huge value-action gap. It found that whilst 85 per cent4 of consumers agree that climate change is one of the most important issues that needs addressing, behaviors that are necessary to reducing carbon emissions are not being adopted fast enough, nor at scale to meet the UK’s climate goals.

It also reports that consumers need more than financial incentives to make the relevant and necessary switches. While cost is the biggest concern for 52 per cent4 of consumers, many don’t know where to start looking into energy efficiency measures.

The research shows that the majority of consumers would be willing to consider upgrading their homes, and few would rule it out. It’s time for energy companies to embrace and capitalize on that willingness by engaging with customers and supporting them with their low carbon initiatives.

Here’s how Advizzo can help…

Supporting your decarbonization efforts

The behavior of people within their own homes will make a critical contribution to the success of decarbonisation efforts. Firstly inhabitants need to change behaviors in order to reduce the demand for heating in the first place. The next step is supporting homeowners to adopt low carbon heating technologies and most importantly, use them correctly.

A behavioural science-based customer engagement program provides energy companies with a better understanding of their customers, enabling them to target them with appropriate messages at the most opportune time, such as:

  • Personalised motivational messages to nudge customers to make behavioral changes that will reduce their energy consumption
  • Educational messages to promote electrification and convert customers to electric products and appliances, e.g. heat pumps, induction hobs, electric ovens, and electric vehicle charging points
  • Promotion of appropriate products that will make homes more energy efficient, such as insulation, air sealing and upgrades to HVAC units (depending on what we know/learn about the household – such as income, size of family, energy consumption etc).
  • Hints and tips on how to optimise new products and appliances
  • Information on any new grants/initiatives as they become available

How will you take your customers on a decarbonisation journey? Let us help you support and educate your customers on what’s required and why – so they can do their bit to help reduce the UK’s carbon emissions. Talk to us today!

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