Our recent survey found that 65% of American consumers in deregulated markets are willing to pay more for green energy over potentially cheaper alternatives (see Figure 1). And yet, of those respondents, only 24% of them currently get their home electricity from eco-friendly sources—a figure that suggests supply isn’t meeting demand (see Figure 2). But what’s really lacking may simply be consumers’ knowledge about how to get green electricity into their homes in the first place, as it may be easier (and more affordable) than they think.
So, why the disconnect? If most people find green energy to be more appealing, why haven’t they switched yet? The survey found that a lack of information seems to be the main culprit: 32% perceive green energy to be too expensive, 30% of the group surveyed don’t believe there are any green energy providers in their area, 27% don’t know how to go about it, and 11% find the process too complicated (see Figure 3). (Despite these answers, it bears reminding that electricity suppliers can offer simplified processes and competitive rates for electricity of all sources, including green energy.)
Pricing is, understandably, a major motivating factor, even for the 88% of those surveyed who say they take climate change somewhat or extremely seriously (see Figure 4). While the environment is top-of-mind for these consumers, they’re also subject to the realities of their pocketbooks: of this segment of respondents, only 70% would confidently make the switch to green electricity, regardless of cost, while 30% would stick to cheaper fossil fuels (see Figure 5).
But of everyone surveyed, one thing is abundantly clear: if they could find a home electricity supplier who can strike a better deal on green energy over electricity generated from fossil fuels, 80% of consumers would gladly make the switch—and only 5% appear to be die-hard fossil fuel fans (see Figure 6).
For those who are overwhelmed by the process and how to begin, it might be helpful to consider the most popular green energy options—and how cumbersome they can be to install oneself. Solar power can be a great solution, but whether it’s a viable option depends a lot on weather and climate. Installing panels requires a considerable investment up-front and requires that one either owns the building or has permission from the building owners. This rules out many people, including those who live in apartments and condos, as well as people with limited income. In that case, purchasing green electricity from a new energy supplier is likely the best choice for the majority of consumers to tap into the green electricity grid.
This study was conducted using Pollfish, an online platform that facilitates statistically accurate surveys between businesses and a diverse group of US residents. 1,000 Respondents were asked the following questions: “Climate change: how serious of a threat is it, in your opinion?”, “Do you think green energy is more expensive than energy from fossil fuels?”, “Which of these home electricity options is more appealing to you?”, “Where does your current home electricity come from?,” “If you're interested in switching your home electricity supply to green energy, why haven't you done so?”, and “If home electricity from green sources was less expensive than non-renewable electricity, would you switch?” This survey was conducted on December 4, 2020.
|65%||Electricity from green sources, even if I have to pay more|
|35%||The cheapest electricity I can get.|
|32%||It’s too expensive|
|27%||I don’t know how|
|11%||It's too complicated|
|30%||No electricity suppliers in my area offer green energy sources|
|11%||Not or not very serious|
|88%||Somewhat or extremely serious|
|Concern about climate change||Electricity from green sources even if I have to pay more *||Cheapest option **|
|Somewhat or extremely serious||70%||30%|
|Not or not very serious||29%||71%|