U.S. consumer attitudes and expectations about energy

Source Title: 
Energy Policy

AUTHORS:  John DeCicco, Ting Yan, Florian Keusch, Diego Horna Muñoz, Lisa Neidert


Understanding public perceptions of energy is important for informing energy-related business, research and policy strategies. To this end, a new U.S. consumer survey probes core attitudes about the reliability, affordability and environmental impact of energy. Appended quarterly to the long-running monthly survey of 500 households that produces the Index of Consumer Sentiment, this instrument inherits the sample design and statistical rigor of that household economic survey. First-year results yield several notable findings. Home energy bills are viewed as unaffordable if they were to double for consumers in the lower income tercile but only if they were to triple for consumers in the upper income tercile. Regarding the cost increases deemed unaffordable, consumers report much greater sensitivity to higher gasoline prices than to higher home energy bills. Moreover, consumers express at least as much concern about the environmental impact of energy as they do about its affordability, a result that shows some regional variation but which holds across income brackets. Several other findings are of likely interest to energy researchers and policymakers, and the unique data series generated by this survey will enable deeper analyses of attitudinally related energy topics as time goes on.