Understanding your customers is an important aspect of showing empathy and offering appropriate programs and services during the pandemic. To help you engage with your customers and better serve them, we conducted the first E Source COVID-19 Residential Survey in the spring of 2020. The survey gathered information from US and Canadian respondents about their needs during the pandemic.

We asked customers about their:

  • Satisfaction with their utility
  • Ability to pay bills now and in the next few months
  • Interest in various bill-assistance programs
  • Ranking of the service bill they’re most likely to pay first (electricity, natural gas, water, phone, or internet)
  • Interest in rebates and incentives for home improvement projects that have been delayed due to COVID-19

We fielded the same study in February 2021 to gain updated insights on customers’ thoughts on how their utilities have responded to the pandemic.

What you get

If you’re an E Source member, you’ll get access to reports and webinars featuring data from the COVID-19 Residential Survey. Your access is limited to the services your utility subscribes to. If you’re interested in receiving a specific report, but your utility doesn’t subscribe to the E Source service that hosts that content, please contact us.

  • How one year of COVID-19 has affected utility customer satisfaction (for members of the E Source Corporate Communications Service or Customer Experience Strategy Service). Customers are more satisfied with their utilities one year into the pandemic than they were during the early stage of COVID-19. But you can still do more to help customers as they recover.
  • “The next phase of COVID-19 communication strategies” (for members of the E Source Corporate Communications Service). In this report we look at data from the 2021 COVID-19 Residential Survey—specifically on customers’ bill-pay habits and expectations—to anticipate their evolving needs in the next phase of COVID-19. Find our recommendations on how to adjust your COVID messaging to proactively target your most-in-need customers.
  • What COVID meant, and means, for home upgrades in 2021 (for members of the E Source Demand-Side Management Service or Residential Marketing Service). Have your customers put off home energy upgrades because of COVID-19? According to the 2020 E Source COVID-19 Residential Survey, almost a quarter of respondents have, but 20% of respondents said they’ll make at least one upgrade before the end of 2020. We explain who to target for your programs.
  • The COVID-19 billing programs customers are interested in (for members of the Contact Center Optimization Service). About one-third of utility customers have lost income during the pandemic, according to the 2020 E Source COVID-19 Residential Survey. Find out which COVID-19 billing and payment programs (from electric, natural gas, and water utilities) customers who have lost income are most interested in.
  • “How to market weatherization programs to vulnerable customers” (for members of the Residential Marketing Service). Weatherization is an easy way to save customers money, improve their quality of life, and allow you to claim savings. There are ways you can responsibly promote in-home, virtual, and DIY weatherization programs. Learn how in this report.
  • “Improving your residential targeting strategy during COVID-19” (for members of the Residential Marketing Service). You need to adjust your targeting strategies to account for customers’ changing needs during COVID-19. In this report, we look at how two utilities are successfully pivoting their targeting strategies. We also include program interest data from the 2020 E Source COVID-19 Residential Survey.
  • The essentials for marketing to renters (for members of the Residential Marketing Service). Renters are a difficult audience because they don’t know they can participate in or benefit from utility programs or services. You risk losing the attention of a third of your residential customers by not reaching renters. But you can increase program participation through renter-specific marketing.


We asked residential utility customers across the US and Canada for their thoughts on how their utilities have responded to the pandemic. We included questions on customer satisfaction, billing and payment, and utility programs.

We first fielded the survey online in May 2020 with 2,024 residential utility customers. We included customers of electric, natural gas, and water utilities. We recruited participants using a purchased sample of US and Canadian residential households from Dynata, a global online market research firm.

We fielded the second iteration of this study in February 2021 with 5,013 residential utility customers. We added a few new questions and response options to the questionnaire but kept the overall survey the same so we can identify trends from study to study.

We set quotas for gender, age, income, and geographic location. We applied a postfieldwork weighting scheme using geographic and demographic data to make sure responses were representative of US and Canadian populations. In general, a sample size of 2,000 completed surveys yields a margin of error of about ±2% at the 95% confidence level. When looking at a subgroup of responses, the margin of error increases.

Study results

Data from this survey is ready for you! Please submit an Ask E Source inquiry with your questions about better meeting your customers’ needs during COVID-19. We’ll get you answers that are relevant to your service territory.

Ask E Source