Why Do Energy Companies Encourage Energy Efficiency and Energy Conservation?

Understanding Why They Want You to Use Less Energy

It may seem counter-intuitive for your electricity or natural gas provider to ask you to use less energy. These are the companies you pay money to each month for the energy they deliver to your home. And since most business want to make money, why are they telling you to use less of the stuff making them that money?

In fact, there are three specific reasons your energy company and local utility want you to practice both energy efficiency and energy conservation. And they all revolve around the long-term health of the greater energy industry.

1. Customer Energy Bills

Research shows that most people think about their energy company for less than one hour a year. It typically amounts to the time they see their energy bill each month and when it’s time to renew their current energy plan. That means your energy company rarely hears from the vast majority of its customers on a regular basis. It also means that the people your energy company hears from are the people who have problems – and it usually concerns billing.

Moreover, when people are asked what they want to learn from their energy companies, the usual answer is some combination of “How to use less energy” or “How to lower my energy bill.” So, by actively encouraging people to use less energy at home and to invest in energy-saving devices, they are engaging in proactive customer service. If they can convince you to use less energy now, your bill will be smaller in the future - and it improves overall customer service.

2. Government Regulations and Incentives

Whether or not you agree that humanity has a direct impact upon climate change, the governments of most major countries on earth certainly do. Many of them have enacted environmental policies designed to encourage its respective populaces to use less energy. The goal is to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide and similar compounds into the atmosphere in hopes of staving off global warming.

Because of those environmental laws, energy companies and utilities are incentivized to encourage you to use less energy. On one hand, they can earn government grants if they hit specific energy-reduction goals; and on the other, they can be penalized if their customer base uses too much respective to its size.

3. The Nature of the Energy Industry

Here’s the kicker: energy companies and utilities want you to use less energy because they don’t want to generate as much energy. Specifically, they want you to use less energy at the times most people use the most energy, a concept called “Peak Demand.” It works a bit like this:

  • There is a set amount of energy always available on the energy grid for people to use.
  • That energy is based upon the generators currently active and working. Not all generators are working all the time.
  • If energy usage starts to creep above that maximum amount, the energy companies and utilities have to crank up those dormant generators or run the risk of brownouts (or total blackouts).
  • It costs lots of money to crank up those generators.
  • Some of those generators are either out of code (and it costs money to fix them) or run inefficiently on coal (which means they pollute - a lot - and it costs money to pay those pollution fines).

It is literally more cost-effective for the energy industry to encourage you to use less energy in your home or business than it is to repair old generators, update them to decent-enough technology, or build new ones with cutting-edge energy generation technology.

Is that self-serving? Sure, it is, and there is nothing wrong with that! Your energy company wants to be just as thrifty as you are when it comes to its budget. The same principle works in your home, in that it’s easier to locate cost-effective measures to tamp down your budget than it is to make big purchases that might not be feasible at this time.

So, the next time you read an article about energy efficiency or energy conservation from your energy company or utility company, they really are trying to help you lower your energy bills. They’re also trying to encourage you to help them reduce their bills – and that helps them lower the rates they charge you for energy!

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