The buzz surrounding “smart” home energy management systems is feared to have worn off – but not so fast. A recent survey suggests that with a little know-how, consumers may want back in the game.

Energy market intelligence firm Pike Research, Boulder, Colo., looked at what U.S. consumers want from energy management systems, their opinions of current products on the market, and how likely cost affects purchase decisions when it comes to smart meters, home energy management, demand response, and smart applications. Its “Smart Grid Consumer Survey,” which is based on responses from more than 1,000 adults, suggests that knowing how the products work and having quantifiable energy savings are key for homeowner engagement with smart technology.

Energy information displays (EIDs) saw the most consumer interest, with 47 percent of respondents claiming that they were “very interested” (16 percent) or “extremely interested” (31 percent) in the products weighted toward consumers with energy bills upward of $300 monthly. Six in 10 respondents interested in EIDs would prefer dedicated in-home display units and Web-based dashboards, the survey found. Barriers to product use included concern that outsiders could monitor homeowners’ energy use and a lack of system knowledge.
Smart appliances ranked second in consumer favorability, with 45 percent reporting that they were “extremely interested” (12 percent) or “very interested” (33 percent) in the products based on price point and electric bill savings. More than two-thirds reported that they’d be willing to pay at least 10 percent more for a smart product as opposed to a conventional one. Of those not interested in smart appliances, four in 10 expressed energy-monitoring-related concerns.

In the other categories, three in 10 respondents conveyed interest in the separate categories of demand response services and smart meters. For more information on the survey, read the press release online.

The hesitancy may be the result of energy-related indecision among the American public at-large, according to a Gallup poll released mid-March. Half of the Americans surveyed expect that the U.S. will experience a critical energy shortage during the next five years, a concern largely spurred by rising gas prices and representing an 18 percent dip from a year ago—that’s 2 percentage points below Gallup’s decade average. The other half of respondents (46 percent) said the U.S. is not likely to face an energy crisis in the next five years.

Yet views on the seriousness of an energy crisis seem to increase by age demographic, the survey found, with one-third of 18 to 29 year olds finding the situation “very serious” while 49 percent of respondents 65 years old and up responded similarly. Read more Gallup energy data online.