Consumer Research

The New Energy Consumer

April 23rd, 2018

The theme for this year’s SmartEnergy Atlantic Event is The New Energy Consumer. In preparation, we wanted to take a look at how consumers’ adoption of technology has changed, along with their attitudes towards key topics like smart homes, clean energy and climate change. We surveyed 400 Atlantic Canadians to get their take – below you’ll find the highlights.

Smart Home

We are still in the early days of smart homes and the Internet of Things. Adoption of devices like the Google Home and Amazon Echo smart speakers is at 16%. Adoption of smart thermostats, specifically the Nest, is at 9% in Atlantic Canada, comparable to Canadian and U.S. adoption rates. Canada has shown a high growth rate for these technologies, and we can expect they will become increasingly mainstream going forward. Furthermore, two thirds of consumers without a smart thermostat are interested in purchasing one. Similarly, 65% of consumers are interested in having a smart meter installed at their home.

Electric Vehicles

While EV ownership remains low at 4%, there is substantial intent, with 5% of consumers very likely and 27% likely to purchase an EV within five years. The first 5% may happen on its own based on existing infrastructure and incentives. The 27% uptake may require additional incentives or market changes in the available product, including pricing and product attributes. Canada lags behind the G8 in adoption rates for EVs, although significant ground was gained in 2017. As jurisdictions look at electrifying their economies, these are important considerations.

Clean Energy

There is strong public support for clean energy generation, with 72% of Atlantic Canadians rating clean energy an 8 out of 10 or higher in importance. One-third of those surveyed rate clean energy as 10 out of 10 in importance. Support for further investment by utilities in solar, wind, and hydro is 87%, 84% and 72% respectively. Perhaps unsurprisingly, there is less support for consumers paying a premium for clean energy. One-half of those surveyed would pay an additional 5% monthly, however, that number drops to 1 in 5 willing to pay 10% more, and 1 in 10 willing to pay 15% more. Those in the younger cohort and higher income brackets are willing to pay more for clean energy.

Climate Change & the Carbon Tax

The good news is that a full 86% of Atlantic Canadians believe climate change is real. However, there is considerably less consensus on what should be done and who should pay. Of those surveyed, 9% stated they are very familiar with the federal government’s carbon tax plan, and a further 50% are somewhat familiar. In terms of support for a carbon tax, Atlantic Canadians are divided with 37% in support, 30% opposed and 32% undecided or unsure. Those in the younger age categories are more likely to be familiar with and support the carbon tax plan. There remains significant room for public education on the plan itself, as well as the impact for Canadians and the environment.


Carolyn O’Keefe
MQO Research