Johannesburg - Three-quarters of consumers think they understand how to optimise their electricity consumption, but only about a quarter of them are aware of programmes offered by electricity providers to help them do so.
This is one of the findings of Accenture's global survey of more than 9 000 consumers in 17 countries released on Wednesday.
Respondents included 1 505 people in North America; 3 054 in Western Europe; and at least 500 in each of Australia, Brazil, China, Japan, Singapore, South Africa and South Korea.
The survey found that while some consumers were open to the idea of moving to electricity management plans - whereby the suppliers actively help households use energy more efficiently through the remote limiting of when home appliances are used - price remained a key factor to the adoption of these plans.
When asked what would discourage them from using electricity management programmes, 46% of the consumers surveyed cited higher electricity bills - despite the fact that electricity management programmes were designed to reduce usage during peak time rates and therefore lower costs.
About 41% of respondents cited as a deterrent their energy provider's selling, at a profit, the electricity they themselves saved.
One-third (32%) said they would be discouraged from using electricity management programmes if it would give their electricity provider greater access to their personal electricity consumption data.
"In the new energy era, residential consumers who allow major household appliances to run at off-peak times will potentially receive a financial benefit," said James Arnott, senior executive Accenture, South Africa Resources.
"However, utilities must address consumer concerns about external control, privacy and lifestyle implications before broad-based adoption by consumers will occur."
Only 29% of consumers said they trusted their electricity providers to advise them on actions they could take to optimise their electricity consumption.
This trust was lowest in deregulated markets such as Germany (10%), Sweden (16%) and the United Kingdom (17%).
It was highest in regulated markets such as Singapore (54%), China (41%) and South Korea (40%).