Environment pulls ahead of affordability as Americans' top energy-related concern

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The University of Michigan Energy Survey has released its latest results, condensing five quarters of data into a succinct analysis of American consumers' personal views about energy.

The results are available here in PDF format.

Key findings include:

  • 60% of Americans say that they personally worry a fair amount or a great deal about the impact of energy on the environment.
     
  • 54% of Americans worry at least a fair amount about the affordability of energy while 32% have that degree of concern about reliability.
     
  • A relatively high number of respondents say they worry "a great deal" about the impact of energy on the environment, reflecting the strong feelings that many consumers have about the issue. 
     
  • Consumers in the South are less likely to believe that energy affects the environment by at least a fair amount than those in the Northeast.
     
  • Consumers in the Northeast are more likely to personally worry about the environmental impact of energy than those in other regions.
     
  • Concern about the environmental impact of energy is steady across all income classes, in contrast to how concern about affordability and reliability decline as household income rises. 

An excerpt from the latest report: 

"Just over a year ago, one of the surprises we saw in the very first sample of the U-M Energy Survey was that U.S. consumers were at least as concerned about the environmental impact of energy as they were about its affordability. Over the four initial samples (taken quarterly), concern about affordability and impact on the environment did not differ at a statistically significant level even though the data hinted that the environmental concern might be greater.

With a fifth sample now under our belt (bringing the cumulative number of consumer interviews to 2,500), concern about the impact of energy on the environment exceeds concern about affordability at a statistically significant level. The trends are shown in Figure 1, with the shaded bands around each line giving the 95% confidence intervals for the percent of respondents who say they personally worry either "a great deal" or "a fair amount" about each issue. Reliability consistently runs third in terms of average consumer concern." Read the rest here

The Energy Survey is a joint project of the University of Michigan Energy Institute and Institute for Social Research. 

Want to go in-depth? The Energy Survey Year One report is available here
The project homepage of the Energy Survey is viewable here