A couple of surveys of late paint Americans in not so a green light when it comes to understanding, or even wanting to care, about energy efficiency. First we had the survey last week which reported we as a nation generally don’t care to do green-focused retrofits of our homes. Now comes another survey, which tells us that many Americans are “clueless” on how to truly save energy.

In this latest survey, conducted on Americans in 34 states by the Earth Institute at Columbia University, 20 percent of those surveyed on energy savings habits said that turning off their lights was the best approach to saving power. This is not obviously true, especially in the face of a myriad of energy saving technologies like energy efficient appliances and and weatherizing homes (which only 3.2 and 2.1 percent of those surveyed, accordingly, cited as being better energy savings habits). Previous researchers, cited the study, have concluded that households could reduce energy consumption some 30 percent by making such choices—all without waiting for new technologies, making big economic sacrifices or losing their sense of well-being.

Energy Trust
image via Energy Trust of Oregon

It is believed that many “side factors” can determine people’s decisions on what is most energy savings focused. For example, people typically are willing to take one or two actions to address a perceived problem, but after that, they start to believe they have done all they can, and attention begins to fade.

“When people think of themselves, they may tend to think of what they can do that is cheap and easy at the moment,” said Shahzeen Attari, a postdoctoral fellow at Columbia University’s Earth Institute and the university’s Center for Research on Environmental Decisions, in a statement. “That is, keeping the same behavior, but doing less of it. But switching to efficient technologies generally allows you to maintain your behavior, and save a great deal more energy.”

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