Knowing me, knowing you: the role of trust, locus of control and privacy concern in acceptance of domestic electricity demand-side response
6 June 2015
Choosing to take part in a demand-side response (DSR) programme entails accepting external influence over one’s energy consumption patterns, such as through price or direct load control (DLC) signals. If participation is low, the programme will be ineffective. How might people’s perceptions of their relationship with the influencing entity affect the likelihood of participation? This study used a representative survey of Great Britain (N=2002) to explore the importance of trust, privacy concern and locus of control for acceptance of different approaches to influencing electricity consumption. Survey respondents were randomly shown a description of one of five DSR products (static time of use [TOU] tariff, static TOU with automated response to price changes, dynamic TOU, dynamic TOU with automated response, and DLC), framed as being offered by their electricity supplier. They then responded to a number of scales including those intended to measure trust in their supplier, privacy concern and locus of control. Controlling for demographic variables, trust in electricity supplier was significantly positively associated with acceptance of all tariffs, although the effect size was smaller for the automated TOU tariffs. The specific measure of trust in the supplier to ensure a reliable electricity supply was significantly negatively associated with acceptance of the dynamic TOU tariff. Privacy concern was significantly negatively associated with acceptance of all tariffs, with the strongest effect for the automated dynamic TOU tariff. Locus of control was a significant factor only in the case of DLC, where external locus was related to higher acceptance. These results suggest the existing low levels of trust in energy companies in the UK may present a challenge in securing uptake of DSR, and an opportunity to trusted entrants from other sectors. Automation within the home may mitigate trust concerns, but people must have confidence in the privacy of this arrangement. DLC may be viewed especially positively by people who currently perceive themselves to have little control over their energy use, but protections should be in place to ensure they are not exploited.
Knowing me, knowing you: the role of trust, locus of control and privacy concern in acceptance of domestic electricity demand-side response. eceee 2015 Summer Study Hyeres, France.
Fell, M.J., Shipworth, D., Huebner, G.M., Elwell, C.A. (2015)