UT Energy Poll and OurEnergyPolicy.org Surveys Reveal Support for Energy Efficiency and Concerns about Political Squabbling

April 30, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Four out of five American consumers and energy professionals view energy efficiency as a personal priority and at least two out of three believe it could significantly reduce overall energy use if not for political squabbling, two new surveys show.

Findings from the separate surveys, conducted this spring by The University of Texas at Austin and the nonprofit OurEnergyPolicy.org, were released Wednesday morning during an event at the National Press Club at which a panel of thought-leaders in policy, academia and industry shared ideas and insights on future energy efficiency policy.

The UT Energy Poll, conducted March 3-17 among 2,133 U.S. residents aged 18 and older, found that 79 percent of American consumers view energy efficiency as a priority, up from 72 percent six months ago.

“It's encouraging that most Americans, as well as informed energy industry professionals, place such a high priority on energy efficiency," said Sheril Kirshenbaum, director of the UT Energy Poll.

“Our survey showed a significant uptick in the number of consumers who say they’re likely to invest in a wide range of energy efficiency products over the next five years,” she added.

The OurEnergyPolicy.org survey revealed an even higher level of support, with 82 percent of energy professionals indicating energy efficiency was a high or very high personal priority. Less than 1 percent said energy efficiency was not a personal priority.

OurEnergyPolicy.org President Bill Squadron described the poll results as “both heartening and disappointing.”

“The fact that both energy consumers and professionals regard energy efficiency as a priority is good news, but our broken political system must be fixed if we are going to make progress,” Squadron added.

“At OurEnergyPolicy.org we're trying to bring all sides to the table for meaningful conversation about solving America's energy problems.”

Both surveys showed that at least 65 percent of respondents see “political squabbling or stalemate” as a significant barrier to making more energy efficient goods and services available to consumers.

Nearly half of the respondents in both surveys said improving the energy efficiency of their home heating or air conditioning system would save them more money than improving home lighting, appliances and personal vehicles. More American consumers than energy professionals said investing in energy efficient home appliances would produce the most savings (19 percent and 3 percent, respectively), while more energy professionals than consumers indicated they would save the most money by improving energy efficiency of their vehicles (31 percent versus 21 percent).

Survey respondents also differed when asked where the U.S. should spend the most money on research and development. Fifty-four percent of energy professionals participating in the OurEnergyPolicy.org poll indicated a preference for spending on energy efficiency measures, compared with 41 percent of consumers in the UT Energy Poll. While 40 percent of American consumers indicated they would like to see the most government spending on renewable energy programs, 32 percent of energy professionals said the same.

Energy professionals also indicated a strong preference for the federal government to take the lead on pushing energy efficiency (46 percent), compared with 36 percent of American consumers.

The UT Energy poll was developed by the McCombs School of Business and launched in October 2011 to provide an objective, authoritative look at consumer attitudes and perspectives on key energy issues. It is designed to help inform national discussion, business planning and policy development. Data from the poll were weighted for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income based on U.S. Census Bureau figures, as well as propensity scores, to ensure the sample’s composition reflects the actual U.S. population.

Energy professionals participating in the OurEnergyPolicy.org survey included 550 individuals from professional energy associations, state energy offices, energy engineering groups, the public utility sector, and oil and gas organizations.

OurEnergyPolicy.org is an online platform for experts from all perspectives to engage in a civil and collaborative discussion on energy policy. The organization’s mission is to provide a nonpartisan forum for substantive, responsible dialogue on the full range of energy issues and serve as a resource for the American people, policymakers and the media.

Media contacts:

UT Energy Poll Director 
Sheril Kirshenbaum, sheril.kirshenbaum@mccombs.utexas.edu
(512) 232-5942

OurEnergyPolicy.org Media Contact
Claire Buchan Parker, Claire@cbcommunicationsllc.com

For more information, contact: Gary Rasp, Energy Institute, 512 471 5669.

1 Comment to "UT Energy Poll and OurEnergyPolicy.org Surveys Reveal Support for Energy Efficiency and Concerns about Political Squabbling"

1.  Rusty said on May 8, 2014

It's hard to know what was being asked of respondents with the "invest in efficient home appliances vs invest in efficient vehicles" question, but for example, if the average US electricity bill is $107.28 ($128.27 in TX) (1) and assuming an efficiency gain of 40% by upgrading, then the average monthly savings would be about $43. Now assume the average US driver gets 25 mpg (2) and fills up 3 times a month for +/- $50 (14 gallon tank x $3.68/gal) (3), so she pays $150/month on transportation. Now she buys a new Prius and gets 50 mpg, doubling her mileage and saving about $75/month. Many people could double their fuel efficiency with a new vehicle, but cut their in-home electrical consumption only by 40-50%, perhaps more with insulation and plugging leaks.

The rub is that energy consumption for buidings is a bigger overall demand than is transportation, so there's more potential for total energy savings from upgrading buildings and constructing green, efficient buildings and homes. So, if the question was "where can YOU save more money, the professionals are right. If the question is "where can WE save the most money, the consumers are right.

(1.) http://www.builderonline.com/housing-data/average-monthly-residential-electricity-bills-and-consumption_o.aspx
(2) http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/12/13/cars-in-the-u-s-are-more-fuel-efficient-than-ever-heres-how-it-happened/
(3) http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/2012/11/average-gas-prices/index.htm