Midwest Energy Survey
On-demand webcast: Tracking household perceptions and actions
(originally broadcast June 27, 2012)
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Hear what residential customers in Wisconsin, the Midwest, and the nation had to say about energy topics! Join Ingo Bensch for a webinar on the Energy Center of Wisconsin's latest research on consumer perceptions and actions concerning their energy use at home.
Ingo shares insights from the 2011 Midwest Energy Survey on these five topics:
- Turning off the energy spigot—what do households say they are doing to reduce home energy usage?
- "It's the economy, stupid" (or is it?)—the role economic concerns are having on household practices
- Relationships still matter for energy education—where do the utilities fit in?
- Choice mentality—do people's sense of how they make choices affect their energy practices?
- Tracking perception change about the climate—are people changing?
Midwest Energy Survey—2007 and 2009
Climate change mitigation has grown into an important national policy issue. The majority of human greenhouse gas emissions result from our use of carbon-based fuels. In North America, the main sources of greenhouse gas emissions are linked to energy use in buildings (residential & commercial), manufacturing, and transportation. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions will require extensive changes in our energy infrastructure, as well as the way people and organizations use energy.
Importance of public attitudes
Public attitudes toward climate change can propel or retard policy measures and voluntary programs designed to decrease American and global contributions to climate change. Although public opinion surveys have been tracking various attitudes about climate change for a number of years, few surveys have addressed the energy connection in sufficient depth to be used for program and policy development.
Tracking public attitudes
View our webinar Silver Lining in Climate Survey Results for a discussion of the 2009 study.
In 2007, the Energy Center of Wisconsin embarked on a sponsor-funded tracking study to assess the state of public attitudes about climate change and energy efficiency.
The study comprised surveys of 3,284 households in nine Midwestern states. Thanks to the support of project sponsors, we are able to make high level results public in three communiqués listed below.
- Climate Change and EnergyPublic Opinion and the Capacity for Action (PDF)
- Climate Change and EnergyPublic Opinion and Policy Preferences (PDF)
- Climate Change and EnergyThe Utility-Customer Connection (PDF)
In 2008, we expanded the project's reach to all 50 states with a repeat of the survey among a national sample. We presented some key results at the 2008 Behavior, Energy & Climate Change Conference.
Implications for public education and messaging
Public attitudes about climate change have implications for advocates of energy efficiency and climate-friendly actions. The Energy Center examined what current attitudes about climate change mean for the use of climate messages to motivate energy efficiency and for public education on the broader topic of climate change. See our findings in this peer-reviewed conference paper:
- Is Climate Change a Good Thing? Opportunities and Barriers to Using Climate Change to Motivate Efficiency (PDF)
About the survey
The Energy Center is pleased to offer one of the most comprehensive tracking studies available on public perceptions, experiences, and practices surrounding energy efficiency in their homes. We initiated the study in 2007 with a survey of 3,284 Midwestern households and expanded to a national reach in 2008. The study is currently being repeated biennially on the following topics:
- concern about societal issues and where energy, the environment, and climate change fit
- climate change perceptions
- interest in and perceptions about energy-saving opportunities in their home
- energy-saving practices
- exposure to and perceptions about energy-saving program efforts and messaging
- decision-making practices and influencers
- selected psychometric and housing/appliances characteristics
We also add related questions of interest to sponsors to address "hot topic" issues. Past questions have included communication preferences, awareness and interest in alternative electric rates and green pricing programs, and willingness to engage in peak demand offers.
This study is available for any location in the United States. In the Midwest, we have baseline data at the state level from 2007 (and additional years for Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Illinois).
Contact Ingo Bensch for more information.