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Americans in the Dark about Energy Conservation

Americans in the Dark about Energy Conservation

Columbia University researcher Shahzeen Attari conducted a survey of 505 Americans in 427 different zip codes, and 34 states, about energy conservation. Her study indicated that the sample group was not aware of the most effective measures they could take to save energy. Turning lights off was selected as the best choice by the survey participants. Options such as purchasing fuel efficient cars, energy conserving appliances and weatherizing homes, which actually do make an impact, were not popular with the participants. Attari said that many people in the study seemed to believe in taking steps like turning off lights or unplugging cell phone chargers. 2.8 percent of the participants said that sleeping more and relaxing more would reduce their energy consumption (Table 1, Page 2).

The study group overlooked other consumer options such as switching from central air conditioning to single room air conditioners.

One of the study’s conclusions brought up prevailing energy misconceptions, “So long as people lack easy access to accurate information about relative effectiveness, they may continue to believe they are doing their part to reduce energy use when they engage in low-effort, low-impact actions instead of focusing on changes that would make a bigger difference.”

One of more surprising findings of the study was that, “participants who reported engaging in a greater number of pro-environmental energy-related behaviors had less accurate perceptions” (Page 3, bottom).

Another important point regarding single action bias was highlighted in the study. When people have taken one or two actions they believe reduce energy consumption, they don’t pursue any others. Attari commented on the single action bias, “[I]f we’re going to do just one or two things, we should focus on the big energy-saving behaviors. People are still not aware of what the big savers are.”

The median age of the survey group was 31. Eighty-four percent had high school diplomas, and 41 percent had bachelor’s degrees. Forty-seven percent self-identified as liberals, 31 percent as moderates and 22 percent as conservatives. Thirty-seven percent said they are environmentalists.

Image Credit: PiccoloNamek

Read more: Conscious Consumer, Green Home Decor, ,

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9:36AM PDT on Jun 11, 2012

Check out, a website that enables consumers, businesses and governments to buy products based on the personal cost of owning them rather than just the purchase price.

2:47AM PDT on Oct 17, 2011

Energy surveys on homes, schools and commercial buildings need to be done with follow up needed improvements. New construction energy codes should be upgraded. It's cheaper and more effective than drilling for more oil and gas.

6:04PM PDT on Jul 10, 2011

This is a defining moment for humanity. Are you up to the challenge of helping to create a new energy paradigm?

3:52PM PDT on Jun 22, 2011

well one way to do it is in my blog here.

another is to STOP using CFLs as they contain mercury and when thrown away seep into the ground and ground water and start using the new White LED light. yes they are expensive right now but if we all started using them the price will come down.

I live in a rooming house and don't pay the light bill here but I bought one for S&G just to give it a try and it is as white as a cfl or regular light bulb.

11:48AM PDT on Sep 20, 2010

Long before it was ever fashionable, for primarily economical reasons, I've always lived by the three R's: reduce, reuse & recycle - especially reuse & reduce. By doing those 2 things, there was less for me to recycle.

Again, due to economic reasons, we have a window unit air conditioner and ceiling fans in the livingroom and 2 bedrooms to keep our 832 sq ft home comfortable during the hot, humid summer days.

A couple of winters ago, we finally had an opportunity to replace the windows in our home (house was built in 1929). We noticed the difference immediately! During the coldest winter months, our heating bills were cut by more than half!!!

There are still other things we need to do to our home to make it more energy efficient, but due to severe budget constraints, we're not able to replace some of our older appliances, insulate our walls, etc. We do what we can, but I know there's room for improvement.

As for the so-called 'energy saving bulbs' - a few people have pointed out the folly of those (Electra & Carol H come to mind). As Carol H has complained about her eyes burning, for me it's not only burning eyes, but also migraine headaches, due to that type of lighting. In our home, we use incadecent bulbs.

We need to educate ourselves about the pros and cons of our lifestyles, and how it impacts us and those around us. Wasteful lifestyle is no longer an option. However, before blindly purchasing and/or consuming suppposedly energy efficient produ

4:45AM PDT on Sep 12, 2010


11:20AM PDT on Sep 7, 2010

I love those electricity saver bulbs.

2:38PM PDT on Sep 2, 2010

Very interesting

6:41AM PDT on Sep 2, 2010

People are starting to do better with conserving energy, but postings like this will help them learn more. Thank you for letting others know.

8:00AM PDT on Aug 26, 2010

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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