Recently some 500 American households participated in a telephone survey called Energy Pulse 2010. Sponsored by the Alliance to Save Energy it gathered information on energy conservation perceptions, motivations and actions.
One conclusion: More Americans than ever before have adopted energy-efficient behaviors, bought products and followed through on home improvements. But not everyone is happy with the results. In some cases, messages about savings are leading to consumer frustration. Some 64% of those surveyed saw their energy bills rise despite employing energy saving technology.
The survey also uncovered interesting perceptions about the best way to be efficient. It asked people who've undertaken energy-efficient improvements which one they tackled first. Almost a quarter (23%) said they had first installed energy efficient/Energy Star-qualified windows. Surveyors say this matches what they hear consistently in focus groups. Most homeowners think that replacing windows makes the biggest impact. Following windows in popularity were programmable thermostats and extra insulation (both about 17%) and caulking/weatherstripping (15%).
There were interesting differences by age and income level in choosing the number-one reason for energy conservation. Respondents aged 45–54 were the group most likely to choose both "to preserve the quality of life for future generations" (21% vs. 15% overall) and "to get more control over personal energy consumption and costs" (14% vs. 6% overall). African Americans were more likely than the overall sample to choose "to be able to set the thermostat to a more comfortable setting without paying more" (13% vs. 5%). The lowest-income group (earning less than $25,000) were significantly more likely to choose "to be able to set the thermostat to a more comfortable setting without paying more" (14% vs. 5% overall).