Is sobriety becoming a business?

The goal is ambitious: to reduce total energy consumption by 10% within a year. And the enormous economic effort: the French, companies and individuals spend almost 170 billion euros a year to cover their energy needs.

The connected home market

The sobriety market begins here, in a large hardware store, in the connected radiator department. A sector that for several years already offers a whole range of devices, remotely controlled via applications, with the promise of saving precious euros. The French spend an average of 1,600 euros per year on heating. This represents almost 10% of a family’s budget.

Aren’t you going home tonight? You can remotely cancel the start of the heating. Did you forget to turn off the towel dryer in the bathroom? You can do it with a single click. Manufacturers have rushed into this “connected sobriety” market. At Leroy Merlin, a hundred people work near Lille to develop new products. Laurent Glaser is the potential and strategy director for connected objects at Leroy Merlin: “Everyone can do something with an investment that is very affordable. Being able to control or stop a mobile radiator, you can do it with a plug that costs around ten euros. And so if you don’t want to change your existing radiators, you can add a module for about sixty euros and you add a box that provides connection. In terms of connected radiators, the first prices are around 250,300 euros.”

“There is no business on a dead planet”

There are therefore these small individual gestures which together make it possible, according to a study by Carbone 4, to reduce France’s carbon footprint by a quarter. But companies and municipalities naturally have a decisive role to play. Not always knowing where to start. Gaël Virlouvet founded a Tehop design office in Angers in 2015, which supports the local authorities in their efforts. He was surprised at the end of August by the success of an online seminar, a “webinar” on “The reinforcement of sobriety in territorial policies” with, in particular, feedback from six months of work in the Lorient agglomeration.

According to Gael Virlouvet: “When we start saying to ourselves tomorrow that I want my activity to be compatible with the ecological transition, it means that a complete transformation must be made, and it is clear that the companies that want taken the lead, who have already begun to rethink their models, they are the ones who will be the winners tomorrow. There is real business to be done in sobriety, in the ecological transition in general. There is no business on a dead planet, so it is to build the business of tomorrow’s living planet.”

These design offices are increasingly called upon by VSEs and SMEs who need support and assistance in transforming their production models. But how can you guarantee that the results are up to the investment. Pierre Galio heads the department for responsible consumption at the French Environment and Energy Management Agency. It highlights a system called “Success Fees”: “The service provider gets paid for the savings that are actually produced. So everybody wins, it’s very interesting, it’s very Anglo-Saxon, and it’s starting to develop in France. But it’s working to improve a process, with immediate savings. On the on the other hand, for the transformation of an economic model, it is over a long period, so the profitability is very complex to assess.”

The ecological transition, a promising niche also for banks

It is an advertisement seen at a bus stop. A major bank shows this promise: “Reducing carbon emissions is also good for your savings.” A slogan more than a reality, analyzes Anne Catherine Husson Traoé, CEO of Novethic, a center of excellence in sustainable finance: “You have to be very, very careful. If you promise, for example, that a financial product will reduce CO2 emissions, you have to be wary of false promises, as it is extremely indirect. We may promise to invest in companies that they drastically reduce their emissions, but it is very difficult to allow that if we put 20,0000 euros there, we will have a corresponding reduction in CO2. At the moment, there is clearly a risk that we are going a little too fast. And that we’re trying to get savers, who are also very keen on responsible investment, to believe that all current markets are oriented towards green and therefore everything is good.”

In a market where almost everything needs to be built on the basis of an ecological emergency, it would be a shame, Anne Catherine Husson Traoré concludes, for sobriety to become an oar!

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