Americans ready to cut energy usage


New Haven, CT and Fairfax, VA, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — January 21, 2009 – Americans are already taking action to reduce energy usage and are willing to do more if they can afford it, according to a survey conducted by Yale and George Mason Universities.

The survey of over 2,100 individuals found that roughly half of Americans say they have already made energy efficiency improvements to their homes, such as installing insulation and purchasing energy efficient appliances. Approximately 20 percent plan to make improvements in the next 12 months.

Substantial numbers also say that they would like to make energy saving home improvements and buy fuel efficient cars, but probably won’t, either because they cannot afford to, or, in the case of home improvements, because they don’t know how or are too busy. Very few say that they are unwilling to spend money on energy efficiency.

Energy conservation behaviors, however, are quite variable. More than 90 percent of the respondents report that they regularly turn off unneeded lights, yet only about 20 percent say they always or often take public transportation, car pool, walk, or bicycle instead of driving.

As primary motivations to save energy, the respondents most often cite the desire to save money and energy. Significant proportions, however, also say that reducing global warming, acting morally, and feeling good about themselves are also important motivations.

And by more than a 2-to-1 margin, the respondents believe that making changes to reduce their energy use will improve the quality of their lives. Interestingly, only 13 percent think they can reduce their own contribution to global warming “a great deal.” By contrast, 42 percent say that if most people in the United States took these actions, it would reduce global warming a great deal. Finally, 60 percent say global warming could be reduced a great deal if most people in modern industrialized countries took these actions.

“These data show that there is ample opportunity to promote a wide range of energy efficiency and conservation actions in American homes and on our roads,” says the report. “Government agencies and non profit organizations that develop initiatives to advance these opportunities should focus their programs and policies in ways that will lead to the greatest energy savings in the shortest period of time.”

The survey was conducted by the Yale Project on Climate Change and the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University.