Millennials and Energy

As of 2016, Millennials have overtaken Baby Boomers as the largest generation in terms of population in the United States. Recognizing this demographic shift and the growing influence of Millennials, the Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative (SGCC) commissioned research to better understand what the rise of Millennials means for consumers of energy.

Millennials are more likely to be Green Champions (38 percent of them are classified as such) when viewed through the SGCC consumer segmentation lens. These consumers are characterized by the phrase “Smart energy technologies fit our environmentally aware, high-tech lifestyle.”

While 33 percent of Millennials under 28 years of age are Green Champions, Savings Seekers and Status Quo segments are also well-represented (at 28 percent and 23 percent, respectively). These Millennials are also well educated and very likely to be employed.

It is interesting to note that Millennials are almost as likely to own their home as they are to rent. Over half of them are likely to share their home with three or more people, while non-Millennials are more likely to live alone or in two-person households.

When asked about energy efficiency, Millennials express interest in anything that may help them save money or contribute positively to the environment. In fact, Millennials’ interest in all but one of 18 energy-saving programs and offers tested far exceeds the interest of non-Millennials. However, Millennials’ adoption rates are consistently lower than non-Millennials, and this represents a sizeable opportunity that will grow as this group of consumers matures.

SGCC also found that Millennials are more willing to pay for programs and services than non-Millennials. While younger Millennials (those 28 and younger) express concerns about being able to pay “at this time,” as a group, Millennials will pay for information or services they value. And, they support investments in renewable energy more often than non-Millennials.

Like consumers from other generations, Millennials are satisfied with their current energy provider. But if we dig a little further, 34 percent of Millennials indicate a willingness to purchase electricity from an alternative supplier given a choice. These consumers are more likely to churn when choice comes to their area if it hasn’t already.

That said, Millennials do trust the recommendations of their electricity provider when it comes to energy efficiency and energy technologies. In fact, about 50 percent of them are likely to invest in energy-saving technologies and programs if their utility endorses them. Electricity providers have an opportunity to educate and to provide tools that will engage this generation.

Millennials engage often and through any means available to them. Indeed, Millennials are far more likely than non-Millennials to have been in contact with their electricity provider within the last six months – and this is true for renters and homeowners alike. Each contact provides an opportunity to build knowledge, relationships and loyalty.

Millennials prefer digital communication (59 percent have used this channel in the last six months), but they will also leverage telephone and in-person contact. They want their interaction to be easy, so they will decide in the moment which channel is the most convenient.

This may be difficult for the electricity provider to manage, particularly when platforms and contact systems are not well-integrated. But, a record of every contact is invaluable to the next interaction, especially since these consumers will leverage any and all channels available to them.

Recognizing the expanding influence of Millennials, SGCC commissioned this research to better understand Millennials’ attitudes, values and how they would like to engage in energy management activities and utility programs. Our findings suggest some important implications for electric utilities and other electricity service providers.

  • Millennials are engaged and “ambidextrous”: You should be, too.
  • Millennials are inquisitive and information hungry: Take advantage of it.
  • Millennials are adept at change, and they’re willing to support it financially.
  • Millennials are enthusiastic about energy and sustainability; engage them now.

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