Most of us have heard the adage, “it’s not polite to bring up religion or politics at a party”. It’s possible that this is true now more than ever. Thanks to a consolidated media and elected officials who seem to have forgotten who they work for, our country is more politically divided than ever. In some ways, we revel in these divisions and use them as ammunition against the other side. But are we really that different underneath our party talking points? We all want similar things: happiness, safety, and smaller bills. Even though recent research showed that those who identify as Conservative are substantially less likely to buy products labeled “eco-friendly”, new research from Opower finds that they love the benefits of energy-efficiency as much as their Liberal neighbors.
Opower decided to find out if visual information about their personal energy consumption had a different effect on those from opposite ends of the political spectrum. Given the study referenced above, where Conservatives said that an eco-friendly labels made them less likely to buy a product, you’d expect them to care far less about energy consumption than Liberals. But that’s not what the results showed.
After 2.5 years of receiving simple energy insights (including a comparison of how they compare to the average home in their neighborhood), Conservatives in the Opower program have reduced their electricity usage by 2.2%, while liberals have saved just a fraction less. Both groups have saved slightly more their politically unaffiliated counterparts (1.8%), though they too have posted strong savings results.
To be clear, the differences between the groups are both statistically and practically negligible Over the life of the program, the average customer – party-affiliated or otherwise — only reduced their consumption by more than 1,000 kwh or about $120 annually. However, the results (gleaned from the household electricity usage of approximately 100,000 Midwestern utility customers) were replicated on a national scale–meaning that no matter how we vote, everyone likes the monetary benefits of saving energy, environment be damned. Maybe someday we’ll be able to get over the semantics and agree that, no matter how you slice it, using less energy just makes sense.
Get more insights from the Opower study and learn about the methodology used here.