A new Accenture report has found that energy-related products are most demanded by those aged 18-34, showing that this demographic will drive most of the future value for energy suppliers.
Accenture’s seventh annual survey of energy consumers explores the views of almost 10,000 respondents across 17 countries. The report, The New Energy Consumer: Thriving in the Energy Ecosystem found that a large demographic, millennials, bring a strong influence on key consumer engagement trends amid an increasingly complex set of competitors vying for energy products, services and experiences.
Millennials want to be the first to sign up for new energy products and services – 24 percent of that demographic are classified as early adopters, compared with 17 percent among the 35-54 age range and seven percent of those over 55. Additionally, 22 percent of millennials said they wanted to experiment with new technologies, which was higher when compared with other age groups (15 percent for those aged 35-54 and six percent for those aged 55 or over).
Millennials, for example, are very receptive and far more likely to consider distributed energy resources (DER) products and services after receiving related information — 87 percent compared to 60 percent among those over 55. Almost 80 percent  said they’d be more satisfied if offered an in-home digital assistant and monitoring service that suggested customised new products and services offers, compared to 62 percent  of respondents over 55 years of age.
When it comes to in home energy management, 61 percent  are likely to sign up for an application to remotely monitor and control home elements in the next five years vs. 36 percent  of those over 55. Notably, 56 percent of millennials, twice as many as people over 55, are likely to sign up for solar panels in the next five years. 
Millennials: a Generation More Demanding of their Energy Providers
Millennials view energy and engage in a far deeper way with energy providers and from a completely different vantage point. While there’s obvious demand for new products and services in this space from them, they want information, and they want everything to be instantaneous and accessible on their terms.
Millennials’ expectations when it comes to use of digital channels are also higher. For example, they attach more importance than older demographics to a personalised experience across digital channels as well as access to the latest digital technologies that enable them to interact with their energy providers. Moreover, 83 percent  would be discouraged from signing up for additional products and services if their provider could not provide a seamless experience.
“Energy providers must take these and other insights about these groups to heart, to unlock value, because consumers’ preferences and behaviours are rapidly changing the market landscape,” said Tony Masella, managing director of Accenture Energy Consumer Services. “Successful energy providers will place design thinking at the heart of their business and view customer and retail operations as a strategic asset.”
Engaging with this Growing Influential Group
The survey showed that utilities have substantial opportunities to engage with millennials as they gain in influence over other consumers.
For example, 41 percent  of millennials interact more frequently with their energy provider using social media, and they would also be more satisfied if they could log into their provider’s portal via social media credentials.
The survey also showed that new value propositions are of higher interest to millennials. 77% percent  would be interested in an online personalised marketplace to select and purchase energy-related products and services. Additionally, just over a third  would be interested in automated home solutions and would be willing to pay for them.
“Customer strategies must take a broad view of the trends shaping today’s consumers, and more importantly, the consumers of tomorrow,” said Masella. “To thrive, energy providers must move quickly to architect their transformation, build new capabilities to seize new opportunities, achieve scale and continuously innovate using digitalisation, automation and multi-faceted operations.”
1. 80 percent for UK consumers aged 18-34
2. 63 percent for UK respondents aged 55+
3. 57 percent for UK respondents aged 18-34
4. 29 percent for UK respondents aged 55+
5. In the UK, nearly half (46 percent) of those aged 18-34 are likely to sign up for solar panels in the next five years, compared to just 14 percent of those aged 55+
6. 81 percent for UK respondents aged 18-34
7. 25 percent for UK respondents aged 18-34, compared to just 3 percent of those aged 55+
8. 70 percent for UK respondents aged 18-34.
9. Just under a fifth (19 percent) for UK respondents aged 18-34, compared to just 6 percent of those aged 55+
About the research
The multi-year New Energy Consumer research program is designed to help utilities understand emerging consumer needs and preferences, to identify new challenges and opportunities and to bring focus to the critical competencies required to succeed in the evolving energy marketplace. The program draws upon primary research insights from end consumers around the world, leading practices from industry and cross-industry providers, and technology adoption analysis.
Accenture’s seven years of global research surveys are based on questionnaire-led interviews with end consumers. Surveys were conducted online in native languages for Accenture by Harris Interactive. The selected countries represent a range of regulated and competitive markets. In 2016, a total of 9,537 interviews were conducted in 17 countries, including 1,358 in the United States, 647 in the United Kingdom, 532 in Canada, and 500 in Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Philippines, Portugal, Singapore and Spain. For residential consumers the survey sample was statistically representative of the general population in each country, with the exceptions of Brazil, China, Malaysia and Philippines, where the sample was representative of the urban populations. For countries with large and/or diverse populations, participants were selected from a broad spectrum of locations. The surveys included attitudinal, behavioral and demographic questions.
Is Wood Burning Sustainable For Your Home?
Wood is a classic heat source, whether we think about people gathered around a campfire or wood stoves in old cabins, but is it a sustainable source of heat in modern society? The answer is an ambivalent one. In certain settings, wood heat is an ideal solution, but for the majority of homes, it isn’t especially suitable. So what’s the tipping point?
Wood heat is ideal for small homes on large properties, for individuals who can gather their own wood, and who have modern wood burning ovens. A green approach to wood heat is one of biofuel on the smallest of scales.
Is Biofuel Green?
One of the reasons that wood heat is a source of so much divide in the eco-friendly community is that it’s a renewable resource and renewable has become synonymous with green. What wood heat isn’t, though, is clean or healthy. It lets off a significant amount of carbon and particulates, and trees certainly don’t grow as quickly as it’s consumed for heat.
Of course, wood is a much less harmful source of heat than coal, but for scientists interested in developing green energy sources, it makes more sense to focus on solar and wind power. Why, then, would they invest in improved wood burning technology?
Solar and wind technology are good large-scale energy solutions, but when it comes to small-space heating, wood has its own advantages. First, wood heat is in keeping with the DIY spirit of homesteaders and tiny house enthusiasts. These individuals are more likely to be driven to gather their own wood and live in small spaces that can be effectively heated as such.
Wood heat is also very effective on an individual scale because it requires very little infrastructure. Modern wood stoves made of steel rather than cast iron are built to EPA specifications, and the only additional necessary tools include a quality axe, somewhere to store the wood, and an appropriate covering to keep it dry. And all the wood can come from your own land.
Wood heat is also ideal for people living off the grid or in cold areas prone to frequent power outages, as it’s constantly reliable. Even if the power goes out, you know that you’ll be able to turn up the heat. That’s important if you live somewhere like Maine where the winters can get exceedingly cold. People have even successfully heated a 40’x34’ home with a single stove.
Benefits Of Biomass
The ultimate question regarding wood heat is whether any energy source that’s dangerous on the large scale is acceptable on a smaller one. For now, the best answer is that with a growing population and limited progress towards “pure” green energy, wood should remain a viable option, specifically because it’s used on a limited scale. Biomass heat is even included in the UK’s Renewable Heat Initiative and minor modifications can make it even more sustainable.
Wood stoves, when embraced in conjunction with pellet stoves, geothermal heating, and masonry heaters, all more efficient forms of sustainable heat, should be part of a modern energy strategy. Ultimately, we’re headed in the direction of diversified energy – all of it cleaner – and wood has a place in the big picture, serving small homes and off-the-grid structures, while solar, wind, and other large-scale initiatives fuel our cities.
7 Benefits You Should Consider Giving Your Energy Employees
As an energy startup, you’re always looking to offer the most competitive packages to entice top-tier talent. This can be tough, especially when trying to put something together that’s both affordable but also has perks that employees are after.
After all, this is an incredibly competitive field and one that’s constantly doing what it can to stay ahead. However, that’s why I’m bringing you a few helpful benefits that could be what bolsters you ahead of your competition. Check them out below:
One benefit commonly overlooked by companies is offering your employees financial advising services, which could help them tremendously in planning for their long-term goals with your firm. This includes anything from budgeting and savings plans to recommendations for credit repair services and investments. Try to take a look at if your energy company could bring on an extra person or two specifically for this role, as it will pay off tremendously regarding retention and employee happiness.
While often included in a lot of health benefits packages, offering your employees life insurance could be an excellent addition to your current perks. Although seldom used, life insurance is a small sign that shows you care about the life of their family beyond just office hours. Additionally, at such a low cost, this is a pretty simple aspect to add to your packages. Try contacting some brokers or insurance agents to see if you can find a policy that’s right for your firm.
Dedicated Time To Enjoy Their Hobbies
Although something seen more often in startups in Silicon Valley, having dedicated office time for employees to enjoy their passions is something that has shown great results. Whether it be learning the piano or taking on building a video game, having your team spend some time on the things they truly enjoy can translate to increased productivity. Why? Because giving them the ability to better themselves, they’ll in turn bring that to their work as well.
The Ability To Work Remotely
It’s no secret that a lot of employers despise the idea of letting their employees work remotely. However, it’s actually proven to hold some amazing benefits. According to Global Workplace Analytics, 95% of employers that allow their employees to telework reported an increased rate of retention, saving on both turnover and sick days. Depending on the needs of each individual role, this can be a strategy to implement either whenever your team wants or on assigned days. Either way, this is one perk almost everyone will love.
Even though it’s mandated for companies with over 50 employees, offering health insurance regardless is arguably a benefit well received across the board. In fact, as noted in research compiled by KFF, 28.6% of employers with less than 50 people still offered health care. Why is that the case? Because it shows you care about their well-being, and know that a healthy employee is one that doesn’t have to worry about astronomical medical bills.
Unlimited Time Off
This is a perk that almost no employer offers but should be regarded as something to consider. According to The Washington Post, only 1-2% of companies offer unlimited vacation, which it’s easy to see why. A true “unlimited vacation” program could be a firm’s worse nightmare, with employees skipping out every other week to enjoy themselves. However, with the right model in place that rewards hard work with days off, your employees will absolutely adore this policy.
A Full Pantry
Finally, having a pantry full of food can be one perk that’s not only relatively inexpensive but also adds to the value of the workplace. As noted by USA Today, when surveying employees who had snacks versus those who didn’t, 67% of those who did reported they were “very happy” with their work life. You’d be surprised at how much of a difference this could make, especially when considering the price point. Consider adding a kitchen to your office if you haven’t already, and always keep the snacks and drinks everyone wants fully stocked. Doing so will increase morale tremendously.
Compiling a great package for your energy company is going to take some time in looking at what you can afford versus what’s the most you can offer. While it might mean cutting back in other areas, having a workforce that feels like you genuinely want to take care of them can take you far. And with so many different benefits to include in your energy company’s package, which one is your favorite? Comment with your answers below!