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50+ Consumers Are Buying Into Green Technology

From simple energy-saving light bulbs to more costly and complex high-efficiency heating and cooling systems, 50+ home owners are more likely to equip their homes with the latest in energy-efficient technology than their younger peers, according to a recent survey focusing on green issues conducted by Rockbridge Associates, a market research firm based in Great Falls, Va., and the University of Maryland.

Not only do more seniors own these products, Rockbridge research analysts said, they also are more likely to want them.

The National Technology Readiness Survey, conducted annually since 1999 by Rockbridge Associates and the Robert H. Smith School of Business’ Center for Excellence in Service at the University of Maryland, tracks beliefs about technology and key behaviors related to the Internet and environmental-related services. The survey measures consumers’ technology readiness and identifies emerging trends.

The latest survey was conducted from September to November last year and sampled 1,025 people 18 and older, of which 405 respondents were 50 or older.



Source: National Technology Readiness Study, conducted by Rockbridge Associates, Inc. and the Center for Excellence in Service, Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland, December 2007

According to the survey, 50+ consumers were more likely to own, or want to own, energy-saving light bulbs, high-efficiency heating and cooling systems, programmable thermostats, eco-friendly homes and home weather stations than their younger counterparts.

The differences between the age groups “point to the desire among 50+ consumers for a more efficient, comfortable and convenient living environment,” said Dave Glantz, Rockbridge senior research director, adding that it is difficult to justify this interest solely in economic terms.

“While many 50+ consumers might be interested in this technology because of the long-term cost savings, it nevertheless costs more in the first place to purchase these more energy-efficient products, compared to conventional offerings,” Glantz said. “Beyond pricing considerations, it appears 50+ consumers are driven also by their more pronounced concern about the environment.”

Overall, one-in-10 American adults are who the survey analysts call “Green Tech Leaders,” the nexus between environmentalists and early adopters of technology. They not only care about the environment, “they also tell everyone they know why they should care, too,” Glantz said. 

Among all age groups, the survey determined that 18% of the respondents were “Green Tech Followers,” those who are just as dedicated to the environment as the “Green Tech Leaders” but who stop short of evangelizing about technology and the environment like their leader counterparts.

The survey determined that while only 6% of 50+ consumers were “Green Tech Leaders,” 25% were “Green Tech Followers,” their largest representation in any age segment.

In addition, while 50+ consumers generally are considered less tech-savvy and more skeptical about technology than their younger counterparts, they are less than half as likely to be “Anti-Green” (4% vs. 10% respectively) and less likely to clearly reject the notion of climate change or the influence of humans on it, the survey found.



Source: National Technology Readiness Study, December 2007

A larger segment of 50+ consumers has already bought into the idea of a green lifestyle, Glantz said. “They may simply need more reassurance about the benefits and reliability of the technology itself, and to understand more clearly the causal link between green technologies and a greener environment.”

Improving that understanding “could be the key to releasing the enormous potential of this segment of consumers,” he said.  

To view a two-minute video by Glantz on "Green Seniors for the Building Industry," click here.

For more information on the 2007 National Technology Readiness Survey and the green technology findings, e-mail Dave Glantz, senior research director at Rockbridge Associates, or call him at 703-757-5213 x15.

Information About Home Technology Available From HTA

The Home Technology Alliance (HTA) is a partnership between NAHB and the Custom Electronic Design Installation Association (CEDIA) that was formed to position the housing industry to effectively meet the growing home buyer demand for home technology and provide maximum return on investment in the new home building and remodeling process.

For more information, visit www.nahb.org/HTA.  

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