Energy Insights' Survey Finds 81% of Energy Consumers Concerned About Climate Change

In a groundbreaking survey conducted by Energy Insights, an IDC Company, 81 percent of respondents indicated concern about climate change. When participants in Energy Insights National Residential Online Panel were asked specifically about their concern regarding the effects of climate change, 51 percent of respondents said they are very concerned and 30 percent said they are somewhat concerned. Only 5 percent indicated they are not concerned at all about climate change.

Regarding what they think is the single most important energy-related issue facing the United States today, respondents were divided, with 17 percent selecting climate change. The most common choice was gasoline prices (29 percent), and dependence on foreign oil was second (25 percent).

Combating Climate Change
When asked who among government bodies, private businesses, and individuals should take the lead on combating climate change, the largest group of respondents (37 percent), said no one should take the lead; every group should contribute. Thirty-four percent (34 percent) of respondents felt the federal government should take the lead, while only 3 percent of respondents responded that electric and natural gas utilities should have a lead role.

Role of Electric and Natural Gas Utilities
Although respondents did not think that utilities should take the lead, they did indicate that utilities should take some course of action. Over half (52 percent) said that electric and natural gas companies have a major responsibility (10 on a 10-point scale) in combating climate change. Another 32% rated electric and natural gas utilities' responsibility in combating climate change a 7, 8, or 9. Moreover, sixty percent (60 percent) of respondents said their local utility companies are not doing enough to combat climate change.

"Our findings make it clear that energy consumers feel utilities have a role to play in responding to the climate change threat. The winners will not be companies that spend their time further debating the issue of whether climate change is a valid concern, but those that are proactive in developing efforts to combat it," says Barb Ryan, research analyst and co-author of the report.

Role of Individuals
When asked whether they have taken action in the last 12 months to limit their carbon dioxide emissions to help reduce climate change, well over half of respondents (64 percent) reported having done so. The majority said they have used less heat and air conditioning (63 percent), washed clothes in colder temperatures (59 percent), and replaced standard light bulbs with CFLs in the last year (52 percent). Further, the majority of respondents (59 percent) are willing to pay $1 per month or more on their monthly utility bills to support utility and government efforts to limit the effects of climate change. Twenty-nine percent (29 percent) of respondents said they are not willing to pay extra on their monthly utility bills.

"Climate change is here to stay, and we expect the current level of media coverage to continue, especially given the approaching election year, which will increase public awareness and concern about climate change. Leading-edge utilities will emerge as forerunners in tackling this issue, and other utility companies will begin to feel pressure from their customers to take action," says Ingrid Rohmund, practice director and co-author of the report.

Survey Methodology
To understand residential utility customer concerns about climate change, Energy Insights surveyed 498 members of the Energy Insights National Residential Online Panel, all of whom were U.S. residents. Data was collected using an online survey in June 2007.

These survey findings, and more, can be found in a 16-page report, Customer Concerns About Climate Change (Doc #EI208237), at http://www.energy-insights.com/.

This article originally appeared in the 08/01/2007 issue of Environmental Protection.

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