Survey Says: Americans Who Vote Uses Less Energy

Did you vote in yesterday’s Presidential election? Chances are you’re either very excited or a little bit bummed as the outcome is finalized this morning. The important part is that you voted, you participated in the process, and that says a lot about you. According to a recent study, voting not only indicates that you’re a responsible U.S. citizen. It suggests that you’re a responsible energy user as well.

Opower, a company that makes customer engagement solutions for the utility industry, recently used its massive bank of energy consumption data to draw some correlations between voting records and energy conservation behavior. Of the 50 million American households they help monitory, their analysis uncovered a striking pattern that held surprisingly well across geographic regions: Americans who vote more also use less electricity.

Electricity Use Among Voters

Image via jnyemb/Flickr

According to Opower, the survey sourced voting records and energy usage data from two states that exhibit distinct electoral identities – a western state and an eastern state. Then voting/energy data streams were matched in a way that personally identifiable information of the households was fully protected.

Between 2004 and 2010, voters in each state had the opportunity to participate in an average of about 10 elections (spanning primary, general, local, and special elections).When compared with energy usage data for the same six year period, it became apparent that those who voted in a greater number of those elections also consistently use less electricity.

There are many possible explanations and influencing factors for this study, but according to Opower, a few things are apparent: Older people tend to vote more and use less energy; and, according to the authors, energy efficiency and doing civic duty are two different manifestations of the same personality trait. As Barry Fischer writes in his analysis on the Outlier blog, “there is something special about politically engaged Americans that also leads them to consume less energy.”

Beth Buczynski is a freelancer writer and editor currently living in the Rocky Mountain West. Her articles appear on Care2, Ecosalon and Inhabitat, just to name a few. So far, Beth has lived in or near three major U.S. mountain ranges, and is passionate about protecting the important ecosystems they represent. Follow Beth on Twitter as @ecosphericblog