Energy Efficiency A New American Norm?

A recent Harris Poll, conducted by Harris Interactive, finds many Americans in relatively the same place they were in 2009 on energy issues, with one noteworthy difference: it would appear that most respondents are now taking steps to improve energy efficiency at home.

According to the poll, eight in ten Americans (84%) say they turn off lights and appliances when unneeded to conserve energy, while 60% report also replacing incandescent bulbs with fluorescent bulbs (60%), using power strips (60%), using low-wattage bulbs (56%), purchasing Energy Star appliances (53%), and reducing hot water usage (51%). When it comes to more complex, labor-intensive tasks such as weather stripping, sealing gaps and installing green products, responses dipped to between 29% and 38% for each behavior. Even fewer (11%) of those polled reported conducting home energy evaluations or audits.

Weatherization

image via Energy Trust of Oregon

In line with 2009’s results, six in ten (61%) Americans describe themselves as knowledgeable about energy issues, including sources of electrical power and energy efficiency (up 2% from 2009). This is relatively unchanged since 2009,  when 59% of Americans described themselves as knowledgeable about energy issues.

Self-reported energy knowledge varied by region and age, with Americans in the east (67%) and west (64%) and those over the age of 65 (65%) most knowledgeable. Three-quarters of men (75%) reported that they were knowledgeable about energy issues, while less than half (47%) of the women polled said the same.

In terms of energy sources, respondents reported that the benefits outweigh the risks for wind (75%) and solar power (77%). Natural gas (64%) and geothermal (52%) were also considered beneficial, but there was less certainty about the benefits of nuclear (42%) and coal (38%).  These numbers are nearly unchanged from 2009, aside from a percent change of favorable views on coal by 2%. (Harris Interactive notes that the poll was conducted just prior to the Japanese tsunami disaster, and may reflect attitudes that have since changed.)

More information on the poll is available online.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.