Editor’s Note: EarthTechling, always looking to forward the cleantech revolution discussion, is proud to bring you this article via a cross post from partner GreenTech Advocates. Author credit goes to Steven Castle.
There’s some good news and bad news from a recently released study by green research firm The Shelton Group—though it is hardly surprising.
In short, people are much more receptive to energy efficiency, and they look to it to save money. Yet they remain unknowledgeable about the topic and will withstand triple-digit monthly increases in their energy bills before doing something about it. Though those with higher incomes are more apt to do something about it.
Some of the findings:
- Homeowners prefer to spend “found” money on aesthetic improvements, but when asked how they would most likely spend their own money, 53 percent would choose to make their homes more energy-efficient, rather than more comfortable or more beautiful.
- This year, the percentage rating their homes inefficient increased significantly, from 14 percent to 23 percent. (Most homes are inefficient.)
- On average, Americans would see their home energy bills rise by $112 a month before taking energy efficiency measures. This is down from the previous years’ $128 figure, but disturbing nonetheless. And as my colleague Jason Knott aptly put it in a CEpro.com post, “The really interesting part of the study: Wealthier consumers have a lower monthly threshold for their utility bills than poorer households.” Those making higher incomes ($100,000 or more) gave an average answer of $113, compared to $120 for those earning lower incomes (less than $25,000). Those with graduate degrees had an even lower threshold — $98, compared to $122 for those with only a high school degree or less. The Shelton Group attributes this largely to poorer people simply not having the money to invest in home energy efficiency improvements.
- The research firm also found that the average number of energy-efficient home improvements was 2.6, and that about four improvements are needed to foster significant energy savings. The improvements most homeowners think they need are replacing their water heater and installing a higher-efficiency HVAC system. The improvements homeowners are most likely to have addressed first are replacing windows and adding insulation.
- Shelton also says that awareness of energy efficiency programs remains low and that only 15 percent of respondents said they had gotten a home energy audit. Even worse: Only 33 percent think they need one, and within that group, only 45 percent say are likely to get one.
Bottom line: More education and incentives are needed to nudge most consumers toward energy efficiency.