Appliance owners give mixed messages about energy efficiency

By Alan Wolf, YSN

Call it a conservation conundrum: While most consumers say they want to save electricity and know how to operate their home appliances in the most energy efficient manner, the vast majority fail to put their good intentions into practice.

According to a recent study of 6,000 homeowners and renters worldwide, nearly 9 in 10 (89%) disregard best home practices for energy efficiency, even though 80% say they know how to use their appliances in ways that would save the most power.

The survey, commissioned by BrandSource appliance partner Beko and reported by IFA, was designed to examine attitudes and behaviors toward energy efficiency, and is part of the vendor’s latest efforts to shed light on consumers’ water- and power-saving practices when using household appliances.

While the results paint a contradictory picture of household conservation, 87% of the respondents said they believe in the importance of energy efficiency and 78% are interested in purchasing products that use less water and power.

Nevertheless, the majority of those queried admitted to engaging in behaviors that are known to waste energy, including:

  • Leaving the fridge door open while deciding which items to retrieve (29%)
  • Leaving an empty freezer plugged in (20%)
  • Leaving electronic devices plugged in after they’re fully charged (37%)

Beko partly blamed inefficient energy practices on “settingsphobia,” a term it coined to describe the fear of selecting the wrong setting on a home appliance. Experienced by some 59% of consumers, the condition compels owners to stick with the current settings on their kitchen and laundry products, even though they may be inappropriate for the cooking, laundry or cooling chores at hand.

“The data gives us a fascinating insight into how attitudes towards energy efficiency are evolving across the globe,” said Akin Garzanli, chief marketing officer of Beko’s corporate parent, Arçelik. “We’re continually striving to provide high quality products that suit the changing needs of our consumers and the environment. While we look for ways to innovate solutions to more efficient living … it’s interesting to understand how households are responding and this will help to inform how best we can help as a corporation.”

Related: Beko Parent Brings Climate Warning to World Stage

Broken out by age, seniors (age 64 and older) appeared to be the least energy enlightened when it comes to buying and using home appliances. The survey results revealed what Beko described as “a substantial disbelieve” by elder customers in energy efficient products, with more the two thirds (67%) uninterested in replacing their current appliances with more power-saving or water-miserly models.

What’s more, while 86% of seniors claimed awareness of energy efficient appliance practices, the majority consistently use the same setting on their washers regardless of laundry load. 

In contrast, 81% of millennials (born 1981-1996) take energy efficiency into account when buying appliances, and 60% of Gen Zers (born 1997-2012) try to do right by the environment by reading the owner’s manual — although 76% confessed to having used the wrong setting anyway, resulting in spoiled food or damaged clothing. Similarly, 28% of Gen Xers (born 1965-1980) fessed up to leaving an empty freezer plugged in.

Beko’s takeaway? People the world over share in common a disconnect between knowledge and behavior, “highlighting the need for greater action in ensuring consumers are maximizing the efficiency of appliances at home.”

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