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Americans Making Changes to be More Energy Efficient at Home
13 March 2012 - 14:08, by , in news, No comments

Almost half would install dashboards to control energy use

Majorities of Americans say that they are knowledgeable about energy sources, but are they making changes and taking advantage of what is out there to monitor their own usage? Majorities of Americans are doing some basic things like turning off lights, televisions or other appliances when not in use (82%), replacing incandescent bulbs with fluorescent ones (58%), using power strips (56%), looking for ENERGY STAR labels when replacing appliances (55%) and using low watt bulbs (54%). But there are other things majorities of Americans are not doing.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,056 adults surveyed online between February 6 and 13, 2012 by Harris Interactive .

Less than half of Americans have installed a programmable thermostat (37%), sealed gaps in floors or walls around pipes or electric wiring (34%), installed low-flow faucets (29%), energy efficient windows (28%) or added insulation to an attic, crawl space or accessible exterior windows (27%). And just in one ten U.S. adults (11%) have conducted a home energy evaluation or audit. There are untitled-300x79certain regional differences as well. For example, over half of Southerners (55%) change their air filters monthly in comparison to just 27% of Easterners and 28% of Westerners. Three in five Westerners (59%) use low wattage light bulbs compared to just 48% of Easterners and, two in five of those living in the West (40%) have installed low-flow faucets compared to just 25% of those in the East and 23% in the Midwest.

Controlling Energy Usage at Home

One way utilities around the country are helping households control energy costs is with Smart Meter technology. Yet just one in five Americans (21%) say they have been contacted by their utility or co-op about this or other energy efficiency tools. It seems to be used more in the West as one-third of those living there (32%) have been contacted compared to just 16% of Midwesterners.

If they could control their home energy use and lower energy costs with a computerized dashboard in their home, almost half of Americans (48%) say they would be likely to install such a dashboard in their home, even with the understanding that they would have to proactively manage their energy use. Three in ten (31%) are neither likely nor unlikely to install this and one in five (21%) are unlikely to do so. This likelihood is a little soft as just 13% are very likely to install this dashboard and one-third (35%) are somewhat likely to do so.

One reason this dashboard may work is that Americans would prefer to control their energy usage. If they were allotted a maximum amount of energy for daily use that varies during peak energy usage periods, seven in ten U.S. adults (69%) would prefer to manage that energy distribution themselves while only 9% would prefer to have their utility manage their energy use; one in five (22%) are not sure.

So What?

In light of rising energy costs and increased pressure to make ends meet, American families are taking simple steps to be more conscientious about how they are using and paying for energy in their own homes.  But the challenging economy and the requirement for a large initial investment is limiting how far families might be willing or able to go, steps that involve more expense, like installing solar, wind, smart meters or energy dashboards are not being widely adopted, said Sarah Simmons, Senior Research Executive and Industry Thought Leader. Energy companies may need to think more creatively on ways to incentivize consumer behavior toward adoption of more energy efficient solutions, said Simmons.

TABLE 1 KNOWLEDGE ABOUT ENERGY ISSUES AND ELECTRICAL POWER “Thinking of something else, how knowledgeable would you say you are about energy issues including sources of electrical power and energy efficiency?”

Base: All adults

Total2009 Total2011 Total2012 Region Political Party
East Midwest South West Rep. Dem. Ind.
% % % % % % % % % %
Knowledgeable (NET) 59 61 61 59 61 60 65 62 58 68
     Very knowledgeable 9 12 8 9 6 9 9 11 7 8
     Somewhat knowledgeable 50 49 53 50 54 52 56 51 52 60
Not knowledgeable (NET) 41 39 39 41 39 40 35 38 42 32
     Not very knowledgeable 32 31 28 31 29 29 23 26 32 25
     Not at all knowledgeable 8 9 11 9 10 10 12 12 10 7

Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding.

TABLE 2 DONE ACTIVITIES TO IMPROVE ENERGY EFFICIENCY AT HOME “Which of the following have you done to improve energy efficiency in your place of living?”

Base: All adults

Total Region Political Party
East Midwest South West Rep Dem Ind
% % % % % % % %
Turn off lights, televisions or other appliances when not in use 82 79 84 81 87 81 84 84
Replace incandescent bulbs with fluorescent ones 58 54 60 57 63 53 63 62
Use power strips for home electronics 56 55 56 54 58 52 57 59
Look for ENERGY STAR label when replacing large or small appliances 55 54 56 52 60 54 58 60
Use low watt bulbs where lighting is not critical 54 48 55 53 59 49 56 60
Reduce hot water usage by taking shorter showers or using cold water in the rinse cycle in your washer 48 43 49 49 50 40 54 52
Change air filters monthly 40 27 43 55 28 45 40 40
Weather stripping around windows or doors to stop air leaks 38 41 39 37 34 37 36 39
Installed a programmable thermostat 37 36 39 34 40 38 37 41
Seal gaps in floors, walls around pipes or electrical wiring 34 35 38 35 27 35 29 40
Install low-flow faucets or showerheads 29 25 23 28 40 28 29 29
Installed energy efficient windows 28 31 30 23 29 26 30 30
Add insulation to your attic, crawl space or any accessible exterior walls 27 26 30 31 20 25 23 33
Have TV with Smart technology 21 21 22 21 21 22 20 23
Conducted a home energy evaluation or audit 11 9 11 12 11 12 12 11
Purchased a new HVAC system 10 9 8 13 9 10 9 13
Installed a tankless water heater 3 3 3 4 3 4 3 3
Installed Solar technology 3 1 2 2 7 2 4 3
Installed Wind technology 1 1 1 1 2 1 2 1
None of these 7 6 7 9 6 8 5 5

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

TABLE 3 CONTACTED BY UTILITY FOR SMART METERING “Has your utility/co-op contacted you about Smart Metering or other energy efficiency tools?”

Base: All adults

Total Region
East Midwest South West
% % % % %
Yes 21 19 16 18 32
No 61 59 66 64 51
Not at all sure 18 22 18 17 17

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

TABLE 4 CONTROLLING ENERGY USE FROM HOME “If you could control your home energy use and lower your energy costs through a computerized dashboard in your home, how likely would you be to install the dashboard in your home, understanding that you would now have to proactively manage your energy use?”

Base: All adults

Total Region Political Party
East Midwest South West Rep. Dem. Ind.
% % % % % % % %
Likely (NET) 48 43 48 50 50 45 55 49
     Very likely 13 13 11 15 13 13 16 12
     Somewhat likely 35 30 37 34 37 32 39 37
Neither likely nor unlikely 31 34 31 31 30 31 29 29
Unlikely (NET) 21 23 21 19 21 25 16 22
     Somewhat unlikely 10 11 11 10 10 13 9 11
     Not at all likely 10 12 9 10 10 12 7 11

Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding.

TABLE 5 WHO SHOULD CONTROL ENERGY USE? “If you were allotted a maximum amount of energy for daily use that varies during peak energy usage periods, would you prefer to manage that energy distribution yourself (assuming appliance use and time of day use) or would you prefer to have your utility cycle appliance use to keep you in compliance?”

Base: All adults

Total Region Political Party
East Midwest South West Rep. Dem. Ind.
% % % % % % % %
I would prefer to manage my energy use 69 66 67 69 74 71 68 74
I would prefer to have my utility manage my energy use 9 11 11 8 7 7 13 8
I am not sure 22 23 22 23 18 22 19 18

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between February 6 to 13, 2011 among 2.056 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words “margin of error” as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is one of the world’s leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in over 215 countries and territories through our North American, European, and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us – and our clients – stay ahead of what’s next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.

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