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Energy Key Findings November 2013

EnerApplegy Efficiency Education – Do We Already Know It All?

In spite of all that utility companies have done over the last 20 years to persuade customers that energy efficient appliances really do save energy – and money – over time, energy efficiency efforts have stalled. U.S. utility companies have begun to notice a maturing trend in some markets where many customers believe in energy efficiency in a very fundamental way and make purchases and take day-to-day actions that are consistent with those beliefs. Alternatively, there is a group of people, who for some reason, tend to resist the pursuit of energy efficiency objectives or simply do not have the resources to do so.

Historically, the approach to marketing energy efficiency has been through education – attempting to explain the value of energy efficiency and the value of utility programs in helping customers to achieve efficiency goals. Perhaps, however, simple education is no longer enough and a revised approach that recognizes the different situations that customers are in would be more appropriate. The following table reports some basic attitudinal information for electric utility customers in a group of Western states (including California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado and Arizona) that have been actively promoting energy efficiency for many years. The table reports the proportions of respondents from a survey conducted in late 2012 that rated each item as a top three-box (8-10) or a bottom three-box (1-3) for a selected set of attitudinal measures. (The survey was sponsored by YouGov America and included 600 U.S. adult heads of households who were directly billed for electricity service.)

Energy Efficiency Chart

While customers say that they care about and are informed about energy costs and energy efficiency and that they are concerned about the environmental impacts of generating electricity and believe that utilities should encourage energy savings programs, a very small percentage (14%) say lack of information is the reason why they don’t do more.

So, the question remains, what will it take to persuade customers to purchase energy efficient appliances in the future? Currently higher efficiency options are offered with a rebate which would recapture the cost of the higher priced, higher efficient option in just three years, but realistically do rebates really change customer’s behavior? There is some evidence to suggest that people would make the decision to purchase the higher efficient option even without the rebate. With a plurality of customers saying that they care about their energy use and believe that their utility should be encouraging customers to be more energy efficient, most saying that information about energy efficiency is not a barrier to their actions in this category and most saying they really do pursue energy efficiency on a day-to-day to basis, is the emphasis on energy efficiency awareness still appropriate at this point. Perhaps it’s time to look at some other tactics.

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  • The amount of energy lost through doors and windows in the U.S. every year is roughly equivalent to all the energy we get from the oil carried by the Alaska pipeline. (
  • Unconventional oil and natural gas (from shale deposits and other tight formations using hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling) supported 2.1 million jobs in 2012, and is projected to support 3.9 million jobs in 2025, including 515,000 manufacturing jobs. (
  • Texas areas including the Panhandle, the Gulf Coast, and the Trans-Pecos have some of the nation’s greatest wind power potential. Texas leads the U.S. in wind-powered generation capacity and is building substantial new capacity. West Texas alone has more than 2,000 wind turbines, and their numbers continue to increase as development costs fall and wind turbine technology improves. At 736 megawatts, the Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center in Central Texas is the world’s largest single wind power facility. (Texas Energy Quick Facts)
  • The explosion in domestic energy production now supports 1.2 million jobs, directly or indirectly, says consulting firm IHS, in a study recently released. That number will grow to 3.3 million by 2020, and new energy’s contribution to U.S. families’ disposable incomes will hit $2,000 per household per year by 2015, said IHS. (
  • The U.S. could surpass Russia as the world’s largest combined producer of oil and gas this year, and may have done so already, a report in the Wall Street Journal has claimed.
    As oil and gas production continues to skyrocket in the U.S on the back of unconventional forms of extraction, perennial world production leader Russia has struggled to maintain its output. Last year, the U.S. produced more natural gas than Russia for the first time since 1982, according the Journal’s analysis of data from the International Energy Agency and the Energy Information Administration. Russia’s gas-production estimates are below current U.S. production levels of just under 70 billion cubic feet per day. (


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