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Consumer beliefs play a big role in power consumption – Zpryme

Consumer beliefs play a big role in power consumption – Zpryme
Some consumers believe controlling parties are manipulating the energy market.

Before utilities develop marketing plans for the "smart grid" and before policymakers make laws for enforcing energy conservation policies, consumer beliefs and how they influence practices that determine overall energy consumption and conservation should be understood first, a Zpryme report says.

The report said what consumers believe in would influence their behavior and this would directly affect energy usage. Educating them about the causes and effects of problems and the need for conservation is the key, according to the report.

"Consumers vary in the amount they trust the information provided on the benefits of consumption due to distrust in the key stakeholders that develop the information," said Megan Dean, senior research analyst at Zpryme.

She added two other factors – how much difference they think an individual would make, and their conflicting values on energy consumption.

"Many do not believe in global warming or other environmental problems, and thus do not see the need to conserve energy," Ms. Dean said. "This stems from an underlying distrust where the information is generated, typically by the government, utilities, or oil companies."

Such consumers believe these controlling parties are manipulating the energy market for either profit or political gain. Education would help consumers be more accepting of governmental policies to encourage conservation efforts, she adds.

Consumers are also doubtful of how much difference an individual could make in overall national energy usage, and have the tendency to create a passive response of "someone should do something" instead of the active response to make personal changes, she says.

"Many consumers do not know the individual steps that they need to take to conserve energy and thus feel that they lack options," Ms. Dean said.

In addition, conflicting values of consumers play a big role, Ms. Dean says. "Non-conserving consumers have competing values about energy consumption and will only choose to make changes if they do not compete with other values. Many feel they work hard and have earned the right to be comfortable."

Conflict with these personal goals would prevent conservation efforts. But if utilities understand how they should appeal to different customer values, a more efficient energy system could be drafted, according to the report. – EcoSeed Staff

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