Survey validates Energy Trust work to connect with new customers


woman sitting in front of her house

Energy Trust’s focus on reaching people of color, those in rural parts of the state, renters and those with lower incomes was validated by a 2020 survey of more than 7,000 residential utility customers in Oregon.

The survey was commissioned by Energy Trust to learn about people’s awareness and understanding of Energy Trust, attitudes and behaviors around energy, use of Energy Trust services and their demographic characteristics.

Among other things, the survey found the groups listed above are less likely to know about Energy Trust and participate in its programs. It also indicated participants are likely to hear about Energy Trust by utility bill inserts, direct mail and word of mouth.

The survey compares demographic characteristics, barriers and motivations of program participants—in this case, those who received Energy Trust incentives or services from 2013 to 2019—and people who have not participated in our programs. These findings help Energy Trust understand where to focus efforts in order to reach all ratepayers.

In 2020, Energy Trust expanded the survey’s scope and sample size to better understand attitudes and barriers for customer groups that have been underserved by the organization. Oversampling occurred in Black, Asian and Native American communities to ensure adequate representation from all major racial groups.

Among the survey’s findings:

  • 77% of respondents said they were looking for ways to lower their energy bills
  • 37% of respondents reported knowing about Energy Trust, but that fell to 20% among low-income respondents
  • While 29% of overall respondents said they worry about having enough money to pay their energy bills, 60% of Black respondents and 50% of Native American and Latino respondents said they have this worry
  • Respondents with low incomes reported they were less likely to use a contractor to make home improvements than people with higher incomes. This is notable given many Energy Trust incentives require installation by a contractor.

Results will be used to continue to develop offers and marketing efforts that will reach more customers who represent groups we have not yet served.