During a recent conversation about whether home energy savings technologies is a viable market, the person I was interviewing said something very interesting. He said, “People are too busy relaxing to think about their energy use.”
I agree that people don’t think about their energy use. But that they’re “too busy relaxing” seems an absurd statement. It’s actually kind of oxymoronic.
But the more I think of it, the more I see the ‘truthiness’ in it. After a long day or week of work, when we come home to our havens, we are “too busy relaxing” to care about how much energy we’re using.
Do I want to turn the heat or air conditioning down to save energy if it makes me less comfortable? No. I’ve been sacrificing my time and effort all day. This is me time.
Do I care that the big screen TV and amplifiers are sucking up energy for the action movie I’m watching? Not really. I need the escape.
But I may care if after I’m done watching the movie my audio/video components keep using energy unnecessarily. And I may care about a way to save on my heating and cooling bills if my comfort isn’t sacrificed.
Just because we tend to be “too busy relaxing” when we’re in our homes, doesn’t mean we don’t care about saving energy and money and being more efficient. And it doesn’t mean that good energy-efficiency and conservation systems can’t be sold to people.
Awareness and Automation
The keys to overcoming the “too busy relaxing” hurdle is awareness and automation.
First awareness: No one’s going to buy energy saving systems if they aren’t aware they need them. But if they realize they’re wasting energy unnecessarily, they’re much more inclined to correct that. Just talking with them about ways to save energy by automatically shutting things off, from lights to audio/video equipment, or programming thermostats or using occupancy sensors to turn off lights and thermostats, can go a long way.
An interesting thing happens when I talk to people about my writing. They suddenly realize that they could be wasting energy in their homes—without me preaching to them about it. I just talk about things like occupancy sensors and systems that can shut off electronics, from inexpensive smart surge strips to more expensive remote monitoring and control systems. Or they realize what LED lights can do for them. Then they start asking questions. They may not run out and get these things now, but a seed has been planted. And I learn about the efficiency topics that interest them. It’s pretty cool.
Now automation: It works, because with automation, we don’t have to think about our energy usage. That’s taken care of. Once the seed has been planted that a homeowner’s energy usage can be improved upon, you can help them overcome the problem without them ever having to think about it. You can program and automate their thermostats and lighting, triggered by timers or occupancy sensors. You can automatically cut power to devices that consume energy unnecessarily. You can replace current wasteful lighting with energy-efficient and long-lasting LEDs that can be dimmed slightly to save even more energy. Want to turn the A/C up on the way home from work so your house will be pre-cooled for you? Here’s an app for your smartphone that can do just that. The list goes on and on.
You can sell these systems and services atop cool, whiz-bang audio and video and control systems—whether they’re inexpensive systems that can return an investment in time or more sophisticated systems for more affluent customers in larger homes
Being “too busy relaxing” doesn’t have to be an insurmountable problem. It’s actually an opportunity to sell sustainable automation systems in a home.