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Study shows Europeans and Americans need energy advice from electrical experts


December 2, 2011
By Anthony Capkun

December 2, 2011 – Energy efficiency aims to reduce energy consumption while maintaining the level of service provided, therefore reducing economic, ecological and social costs. Professionals in this field are very familiar with the issue, but how do French, English, German and American citizens perceive energy efficiency? How do they go about saving energy in their households? Are they prepared to make sacrifices and change their habits?

To try to answer these key questions, Rexel (a worldwide distributor of electrical supplies) contracted Harris Interactive to interview a representative sample of the population from these four countries. The results of this first investigation show that energy efficiency is at the heart of the public’s concerns. For example:

Nearly 9 out of 10 citizens view energy efficiency as an important issue. Consumers consider themselves responsible for electrical efficiency and its promotion, but recognize that they only have a superficial understanding of the existing measures in place to encourage it.

From small changes in daily habits to buying eco-friendly fittings, households are committed to the issue. For example: 80% of French people purchase low-energy light bulbs and 72% use multi-sockets with switches (ordinary sockets do not have switches in France).

The issue of energy efficiency also appears to be inextricably linked to financial considerations. Consumers are keen to invest to reduce their electricity bills so long as they can measure the impact and see the return on their investment.

Distributors of electrical products have an important role to play in the promotion of electrical efficiency (according to 83% of French people).

By publishing this study, Rexel aims to reaffirm “its position at the forefront of the electrical sector” and demonstrate both “its expertise in providing energy-efficient solutions and its active participation in developing such solutions in partnership with manufacturers, fitters and commercial customers”.

To promote awareness of electrical efficiency issues, Rexel has launched www.electrical-efficiency.com.

“This survey shows that we are in the process of moving towards a new energy model. As a market leader, Rexel is particularly involved in accelerating change, helping clients to find eco-efficient solutions and continuing to play a driving role in energy efficiency issues within the electrical sector,” said Jean Charles Pauze, chair of the management board and CEO of Rexel.

Respondents from all four countries agree energy efficiency is an important issue; between 86% and 95% judge the subject to be “important” while nearly two-thirds consider it “very important”. However, although citizens are aware of energy efficiency issues and believe they are informed about the measures in place in their country, their knowledge is actually somewhat superficial.

In France, for example, 4 in 5 claim to have heard about a program called “eco Prêt à Taux Zéro”, but only 45% know exactly what it is. Similarly, 72% of French respondents have heard of the Low Energy Construction Standard (BBC), but 31% of them don’t know exactly what it is.

Respondents outlined their expectations in terms of information that they need to receive: existing financial and legal incentives (27% of French and 35% of British); electricity consumption monitoring (23% of French and 28% of Germans); and development of new technologies (28% of French and 26% of Germans).

The study shows Europeans and Americans are aware of energy efficiency issues and have already made many changes to their daily habits to save energy. For example: 80% of French people purchase low energy light bulbs and 72% use multi-sockets with switches (ordinary sockets do not have switches in France).

As far as fittings are concerned, 88% of French people prefer to use low-energy fittings, 53% would be ready to install occupancy sensors to turn lights off when nobody is in the room (or have already done so), and 42% would consider installing an eco-efficient heating system.

Respondents say they would be willing to make efforts in three areas to improve their energy efficiency: efforts in terms of time (76% in France, 82% in the UK), investment in equipment that is more expensive to buy but with long-term savings (69% in France, 78% in the USA), or giving up certain comforts (71% in the UK, 61% in France, 52% in the USA). Respondents were aware of their budgets, and tended to be torn between spending less in the short term and making investments that would reduce energy costs in the short and medium terms.

For 83% of French people, distributors of electrical products have an important role to play in the promotion of electrical efficiency.