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Consumers Satisfied with Smart Home Devices, but Data Privacy Concerns Linger

June 29, 2021
SECC survey looks at reasons why consumers have — or have not — adopted smart home devices.

A new report from the Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative (SECC) found that current owners of smart home devices, such as smart thermostats, appliances, and speakers, are overwhelmingly satisfied with these technologies. However, upfront costs and data privacy concerns remain key barriers for those who do not yet own any smart home devices.

The Smart Home and Energy Data: What Do Consumers Want? report, which is based on an online survey of 1520 consumers in the United States and 500 in Canada, revealed that 97% of smart speaker and smart thermostat owners are either somewhat or very satisfied with their devices. According to the report, these current adopters skew younger (77% are under 55 years old) and align more closely with SECC's Tech-Savvy Protégé consumer segment, a group that values energy efficiency and environmental benefits and prefers using technologies to achieve them.

Among consumers who have not yet adopted smart home devices, the research found that these consumers are more likely to be older and fit into SECC's two consumer segments that are the least engaged in energy efficiency — the Movable Middle and the Energy Indifferent. These non-adopters state that they don't see a need for smart home devices (57%), that they have concerns around data privacy (45%), and that the upfront costs to purchase these devices are too high (39%).

Regardless of current device ownership, data security and privacy remain important concerns for all consumers. About two-thirds (63%) of all consumers are concerned about data leaks, with non-adopters of smart home devices being considerably more concerned with leaks originating from a third party rather than their current electricity provider. Smart home device owners appear to be equally trusting of third parties and their electricity providers; 44% are concerned with data leaks from both entities.

Finally, the survey revealed that current adopters are likely to have multiple smart home devices in their homes, particularly those that have made the investment in smart appliances. 70% of smart appliance owners have a smart speaker and 63% have a smart thermostat installed at home. Smart speaker owners, however, are the least likely to have other smart home devices — only 45% of them have a smart thermostat and only 35% have smart appliances. At the same time, only 13% of smart speaker owners cite energy savings as a key benefit of these devices, suggesting that stakeholders have a major opportunity to help consumers understand how these devices can help them become more energy efficient at home.

The Smart Home and Energy Data: What Do Consumers Want? report can be downloaded by SECC members hereThe research team will be hosting a free webinar on the report's main findings on June 29, 1 p.m. (ET).

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