Orbit has been involved in a national study proving there is huge potential to engage with customers on reducing energy use and managing costs. The survey of 300 people was conducted as part of the National Energy Study, involving Orbit and 13 other housing associations. The study was done by Sustainable Homes for the Department of Energy and Climate Change.
Figures revealed that housing associations are the most trusted source of advice for customers wanting to cut their energy use, followed by energy charities. Friends and family came in only in third place, whilst local builders, plumbers and electricians were near the bottom. And energy companies and the government confounded expectations, with around a third saying they would trust these to provide impartial advice – despite polls earlier this year showing that ‘the big six’ are held in lower regard than bankers. Orbit is already leading the way with its approach to energy advice, with its very own Energy Doctor providing at-home visits, and its 2020 target of providing energy and financial advice to 10,000 people.
The study also confirmed that many people continue to struggle to make sense of bills, with 75% saying they had difficulty understanding them. However, most of the people asked to take part in the study felt that they were generally good at saving energy in the home, citing measures such as switching lights off and filling only just enough water in the kettle. But by far the biggest ‘wins’ are to be made with heating (accounting for nearly two-thirds of energy use); a common misconception, for example, is that turning the thermostat higher than the required temperature heats a house more quickly.
Other findings included:
People want feedback on their energy use. Eighty-two percent said that they would want their energy suppliers to provide them with regular feedback on their performance relative to others and that this feedback would encourage them to make energy savings.
Stand-by mode is still used by many. Only 30% turned their household appliances off all the time.
Heating controls cause confusion with over one third reporting difficulty understanding them. This signals a clear need to de-mystify the single biggest use of energy in the home.
Low income households are hit by a ‘double-whammy’ of not only being more likely to have difficulties affording their bills but also likely to be using more energy owing to being at home more than other groups. But income levels are not always a good guide to how well people are able to manage their bills.