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Innovation Alone Not Enough to Grant Companies Access to Consumers’ Homes and the Clean Energy Ecosystem, Uplight’s Research Shows

Uplight, the technology partner of energy providers transitioning to the clean energy ecosystem, today announced results from its novel market research study conducted in partnership with research firm See Change Institute. The results showcase how consumers evaluate which brands, products and services they’ll allow into their homes to help them manage energy decisions as more companies enter the clean energy ecosystem.

Trends, including the electrification of everything and an increasing need to manage energy consumption at the grid edge, are leading brands such as Google and Amazon, as well as retailers and car manufacturers, to flock to this space with promises of cleaner, cheaper energy. At the same time, consumers are becoming more active and involved in their energy decisions. How will consumers receive these offerings? Who will they welcome into their lives and energy decisions, and who will they shun? To better understand consumer attitudes toward 16 representative brands, products and services and their potential as part of the clean energy ecosystem, Uplight and See Change Institute gathered input from 2,400 U.S. utility customers, showing how companies rank in terms of trust, competence, innovation and willingness to allow brands to connect their homes and help manage energy decisions.

While trust, competence and innovation all serve as gateway beliefs to consumers’ increased willingness to allow brands to connect their homes and manage energy use, trust has the strongest association with that willingness. Interestingly, increases in competence without corresponding increases in trust and innovation can actually decrease consumer willingness to allow brands to connect and manage energy in their homes.

The study found that utilities, in general, scored lower on innovation versus other products, brands and services. On the flip side, they ranked high on willingness to connect and manage. This bodes well for partnerships between utilities and brands that scored high on innovation, but lower on willingness to connect and manage–like Tesla or Amazon, for example. Working together, these types of organizations can benefit from each other’s strengths and make up for each other’s deficits in the eyes of consumers.

These partnerships are so critical given no single entity alone currently embodies all the characteristics that make the ideal clean tech ecosystem brand: one that consumers consider to be innovative and digital, have a strong familiarity with through daily or frequent use, and also strongly associate with energy.

“As more brands make a play to enter the clean tech ecosystem, our research shows being perceived as a hot, innovative company isn’t enough to win consumer trust,” said Beth Karlin, PhD and founder of See Change Institute. “Partnerships between well-known brands and utilities—who consumers already allow in their homes—can accelerate the clean tech revolution.”

Additional key findings include:

  • Brand trust, innovation and competence explain a much larger amount of the variation in customers’ willingness to connect clean tech products into their home and help manage their energy consumption than demographics alone.
  • While high income households are more likely to give premium brands and products—like Apple, Tesla and smart thermostats—higher scores for trust, competence and innovation, that doesn’t mean they’ll easily welcome them into their homes to manage energy decisions. There was no meaningful difference in scores between income groups for those same brands and products when it comes to willingness to allow those brands and products to connect and manage.
  • Retailers Walmart, Costco and Target, along with Ford, have the biggest barrier to overcome in terms of being viewed as a fit to partner with utilities to reduce energy costs. Respondents were most likely to rank the four companies as not a fit to reduce energy costs or provide green energy. While this isn’t inherently surprising given these companies haven’t historically been in the energy space, it shows there’s work to be done in changing consumer perceptions if these entities want to enter consumers' lives in this novel way.
  • There’s room for all brands, products and services to improve consumers’ willingness to allow them to help manage their energy decisions. Across the board, average scores decreased as respondents were asked to rate companies based on increasingly personal levels, with handing over control of some decisions showing the highest barrier to entry.

To learn more about the market research study and what it means for the energy transition, contact

About Uplight

Uplight is the technology partner for energy providers and the clean energy ecosystem. Uplight’s software solutions connect energy customers to the decarbonization goals of power providers while helping customers save energy and lower costs, creating a more sustainable future for all. Using the industry’s only comprehensive customer-centric technology suite and critical energy expertise across disciplines, Uplight is streamlining the complex transition to the clean energy ecosystem for more than 80 electric and gas utilities around the world. By empowering energy providers to achieve critical outcomes through data-driven customer experiences, delivering control at the grid edge, creating new revenue streams and optimizing existing load and assets, Uplight shares a mission with its clients to make energy more sustainable for every community. Uplight is a certified B Corporation. To learn more, visit us at, find us on Twitter @Uplight or on LinkedIn at


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