Nearly 1/​2 of Homeowners Wait Until May or June to Turn on Their A/​C System for First Time

BY Courtney Huckabay
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The Lennox Home Energy Report Survey finds homeowners are making the grade when it comes to energy efficiency. The research demonstrates the importance of energy efficiency for keeping comfort levels high and bills low – the majority of homeowners would opt to remove garments to avoid calling an A/​C repairman if their cooling systems stopped working.

Homeowners give themselves above-​average marks in energy conservation. Twenty-​one percent of homeowners gave themselves an ‘A,’ (a 4 percent increase from 2016), 45 percent gave their household a ‘B’ when grading their household energy efficiency (a 6 percent decrease from 2016), and 29 percent gave themselves a ‘C,’ indicating more people are moving toward the head of the class when it comes to energy savings. Although a large majority (93 percent) have taken steps to conserve energy, it’s clear that a number of homeowners see the opportunity for increased efforts.

When asked to name the biggest energy hog in the home, female and male heads of household were nearly equally identified (34 percent versus 32 percent), while 21 percent of the homeowners said it was the child/​children who are the most wasteful.

The down season is a great time for HVAC service providers to promote maintaining and checking on homeowners' AC units! Ad campaigns can help remind members to schedule checks. The new AudienceSCAN survey found 3.4% of Americans intend to join HVAC services/​repair/​membership clubs in the next 12 months.

Homeowners conserve energy at home to save money (64 percent, down 5 percent from 2016) over helping the environment; however, if money was no object, they said they would be willing to invest in the following to increase energy efficiency: solar panels or appliances (39 percent this year, compared to 32 percent in 2016), more efficient windows (19 percent), high-​efficiency air conditioner or furnace (19 percent), insulation (9 percent), programmable thermostat (7 percent), high-​efficiency water heater (5 percent).

While homeowners show that they are willing to take steps to conserve energy, they are not likely to sacrifice their comfort over savings. When asked how willing homeowners are to turn the thermostat up to save $50 a month on their utility bill, 39 percent would be willing to raise their thermostat three to six degrees, while 25 percent would not go any higher than one or two degrees.

Service clubs can reach out to homeowners with ways to reduce bills in marketing efforts. The new AudienceSCAN study reported 49% of Repair Club Members took action after reading newspaper (print, online, mobile or tablet) ads in the past month!

Changes in weather aren’t the only reason homeowners are motivated to crank up (or down) the A/​C. The Lennox Home Energy Report Card survey indicated homeowners adjust the temperature on their thermostat when sleeping (57 percent), entertaining (46 percent), cooking (21 percent), exercising (14 percent) and “making whoopee” (12 percent). The survey also found that nearly half of American homeowners will turn on their air conditioning system for the first time of the year in May or June, while 7 percent of home owners run their A/​C system year-around.

Service providers should not ignore directory search (online or printed Yellow Pages book) advertising. The AudienceSCAN survey revealed 47% of HVAC Service Club Members took action after seeing those ads in the past month.

While many people proactively take positive actions toward lowering energy bills, some do earn a failing grade for doing more harm than good. Twenty-​four percent of homeowners said they have turned off their cooling system completely during hot days or heating systems on extremely cold days to help conserve energy. “While turning off your air conditioning system seems like a good idea in theory, it actually is forcing the unit to work harder,” said Davis. “Doing so uses more energy and therefore costs the homeowners more in the end. Instead of turning your system on and off, we recommend lowering or raising the thermostat – or better yet, installing a smart thermostat.

AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to AdMall for Agencies, or with the SalesFuel API. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the AudienceSCAN Reports in AdMall.