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New Report Explores Whether Consumers Will Electrify Homes, Drive EVs

Nov. 3, 2023
A nationally representative survey from the Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative reveals consumer awareness, interests and concerns around electrification.

Most Americans are aware of electric alternatives to fossil fuel-powered household appliances, such as heat pumps, electric water heaters and induction cooktops, but few have yet to make the switch, according to a new survey from the Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative (SECC), a nonprofit organization that studies the needs and wants of today’s energy consumers.

The “Electrification at Home and on the Road” report – which is based on an online survey of 1,500 respondents plus an additional sample of 621 electric vehicle (EV) drivers – found that most consumers who own electric water heaters, heat pumps or induction cooktops either had similar appliances when they purchased their current models or moved into a home that already had these appliances installed.

Of the respondents that reported currently having a heat pump in their home (23 percent), only 18 percent said that they switched to it from another type of HVAC system. And just nine percent switched to an electric water heater from one powered by fossil fuels. However, with induction cooktops, more consumers seem to be actively switching; 27 percent of current owners said that they have not always had this type of appliance in their home.

For most respondents, the main barriers to transitioning to an electric alternative are that they either do not own the appliances in their homes or that they don’t understand the pros and cons of switching. Among those that are not open to purchasing a heat pump, 36 percent said that they don’t understand the pros and cons, and for induction cooktops, this was 32 percent. For electric water heaters, the second-most mentioned barrier – behind not owning their appliances – is that electricity is more expensive than other fuel sources in their area (40 percent).

When it comes to electric vehicles, consumers are generally more supportive – though there are still concerns around public charging infrastructure. Fifty-six percent of respondents said that they are concerned with the charging time at public charging stations, while 44 percent are concerned with the cost of public charging and 43 percent are concerned with the availability of charging stations in their area.

While concerns are typically much lower among current owners of electric vehicles, particularly around range anxiety, EV drivers are slightly more likely to be concerned with out-of-order charging stations (27 to 21 percent, respectively). But, overall, they seem to be very satisfied with their vehicles as 98 percent say that they are either very or somewhat likely to purchase an EV for their next vehicle.

“It is great to see SECC once again leverage original survey research to get into the minds of the energy consumer. At ICF, we partner with utilities that are leading the energy transition, and this new resource helps to close the gap in understanding the benefits and barriers to both transportation and residential electrification,” said Jeff Adams, Senior Vice President at ICF, one of the report’s sponsors.

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