Energy efficiency a 'big part' of reaching new customers says E.ON
Energy companies are finding it increasingly difficult to help customers cut their carbon emissions as low levels of trust are creating a lack of engagement among some consumers, leaving energy providers in a "Catch 22".
That's according to E.ON's new report - Re-setting Relationships in 2012 - which shows that the potential lifetime carbon savings that it helped customers achieve through energy efficiency in 2011 was half that in 2010 and 2009.
E.ON admitted that it is getting "harder to reach" eligible customers. A spokesman told edie: "We must continue to look for new ways to reach and engage with our customers on [..] energy efficiency and trust is a big part of that."
A DECC survey earlier this week showed the majority of people (82%) give 'a lot or a fair amount' of thought to energy saving, yet few are turning this into action. More than half (53%) leave the heating on sometimes when they are out and 64% still boil the kettle with too much water in.
The survey also showed very low levels of trust in the energy companies. Iain Watt, principal sustainability advisor at Forum for the Future said this "trust deficit" was making it difficult for energy providers to affect change.
"I think they're stuck in a bit of Catch 22," he said. "The very fact that energy efficiency offers and products come from them makes many customers suspicious. E.ON has been trying in this space but I think customers still smell a rat."
Watt suggested that energy companies see energy efficiency as an obligation. WWF-UK head of business and industry Dax Lovegrove said the firms are generally preoccupied with compliance rather than real leadership.
"We still see energy companies placing equal emphasis on reducing their own carbon footprint versus that of their customers when the real focus should be on the latter."
Last week E.ON announced "one of the most extensive energy efficiency training programmes ever undertaken in Britain" to help businesses and households "get their bills under control". This will see all frontline staff trained in energy efficiency.
EDF Energy has also launched 'Visi', a real-time energy monitoring system which will be used at the Olympic Park in London to "bring energy use to life". EDF Energy B2B services manager Laurent Mineau said the 'low hanging fruit' hasn't gone and there are still easy ways to save energy.
"The problem may be that while awareness of the issues around energy and climate change has improved, understanding of the real impact of our energy decisions has not. Because energy is not visible or particularly easy to contextualise, we don't easily see the impact of our behaviours."
He added: "Energy companies have a great deal of expertise to share and are doing a lot to help raise awareness and provide ways for businesses and households to cut their energy consumption."