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Americans Making Changes to be More Energy Efficient at Home

 
 

Almost half would install dashboards to control energy use

NEW YORK, March 13, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- 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.

(Logo:  http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20100517/NY06256LOGO )

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 certain 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

 

Total

2009

Total

2011

Total

2012

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.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

J41216
Q905, 915, 920

The Harris Poll® #27, March 13, 2012
By Sarah Simmons, Senior Research Executive and Industry Thought Leader, Harris Interactive

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.

Press Contact:
Corporate Communications
Harris Interactive
212-539-9600
press@harrisinteractive.net

SOURCE Harris Interactive

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