Energy consumers can no longer be viewed as simple passive users: today, our customers are key players when it comes to change and, if we want to drive the energy transition towards a more sustainable system, then we need to involve them in that process.
Purchasing choices are a hugely important tool that consumers can use to make a positive impact on the environment, and many of them are realizing this. In actual fact, more and more consumers are deciding to prioritize sustainability. We want this community to grow and grow until the entire population is involved. This is why we all need to be aware of the consequences of our choices: it is vital if we are to change our habits.
Companies need to flank their customers on this journey. But they can’t just act as if they are teaching them a lesson or imposing their own particular model. Instead, they need to offer the tools and information to enable customers to play a central role in this paradigm shift.
Electrification and the energy transition
The electrification of consumption is one of the pillars of the current energy transition. Using electricity to power transportation, cooking, and space and water heating is a more efficient and sustainable way to consume energy. It should therefore be promoted at all levels, from large companies to public administrative bodies and even individual citizens.
A municipality that buys a fleet of electric buses, a company that installs a photovoltaic or biomass system, a citizen that moves to a heat pump or an induction hob: these are all individual actions that have positive knock-on effects for everyone. But they are also actions that demand an awareness of the financial advantages of electrification and a knowledge of the active role we can all play in combating climate change and benefiting society in general. In order to raise awareness and offer that knowledge, we need a structured, rather than a sporadic, communication strategy.
Start by listening
First and foremost, we need to present ourselves as a credible, authoritative source of information. We also need to be aware that it takes time to build trust. Electricity companies and consumers are allies rather than rivals on different sides of the fence, when it comes to improving efficiency and sustainability. Their common enemies are global warming, pollution and energy waste. These enemies have many different names and faces, but there is one effective weapon when it comes to fighting them: electrification.
The first step in consolidating this alliance is to listen to customers and understand what they already know about the advantages of electrification. That will provide the starting point for communicating with them as effectively as possible through instigating personalized dialogue.
For instance, false myths continue to abound about electric cars. Some people think that they don’t have enough range or that charging points are few and far between. Others still are under the impression that charging times are way too long. There are even people who think all of the above. In reality, the issues behind these worries have already been dealt with, but the prejudices linger. Our job is to provide clarity and absolute transparency on the subject.
Financial benefits and environmental sustainability
Naturally enough, one of the fundamental factors that influence consumers’ purchasing choices is money: this is completely understandable, particularly during a time such as the present. It is therefore particularly important to explain the financial advantages of electrification: for instance, the fact that electric cars are three to five times more efficient than internal combustion engine-powered vehicles, that a heat pump uses four times less energy than a diesel or gas boiler, and that induction hobs are twice as efficient as gas cookers.
This is even more relevant in the case of electricity consumers that decide to become prosumers (producers + consumers), by installing a solar panel on the roof of their home or an industrial building. In this case, there is a clear crossover between the environmental benefits of renewable electricity production and the financial benefits of reducing the amount of energy they take from the grid.
In terms of raising awareness about sustainability-related issues, we also need to listen to customers in order to understand their perspective: we are all on the same journey but we need to understand exactly at which stage on it each one of us is and how we can help each other in speeding up progress.
Although it is less immediate than the financial aspect, the environmental factor packs just as much punch. Anyone who has test-driven a car that is both silent and doesn’t pollute will never go back, nor will anyone who has used a safer cooking method that produces better results.
This begins a virtuous circle: the more people are involved in the electrification process, the more the benefits become tangible for everyone. At that point, a communications strategy for consumers is no longer necessary. Indeed, consumers themselves become ambassadors for the energy transition. When the benefits of electrification become clear to everyone, the alliance between electricity companies and consumers will have genuinely overcome the challenge we are grappling with right now.