Poll: Saving Money Motivates Iowans to Save Energy

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa, February 24, 2009 (ENS) Although Iowans are concerned about the environment and global warming, the number one reason they conserve energy is to save money, finds the first Iowa Energy Poll, 2008, conducted by the University of Northern Iowa’s Strategic Marketing Services and funded by the Iowa Power Fund.

Vehicle purchases, driving less as gas prices increase, buying appliances and equipping a home with renewable energy sources are all influenced primarily by the wish to save money, the poll found.

The Iowa Energy Poll consisted of three different surveys a general energy survey, a transportation survey and a housing survey. Ten thousand of each were distributed the first week of November 2008.

Strategic Marketing Services received a total of 1,484 completed transportation surveys; 1,215 completed housing surveys; and 1,054 completed general surveys. The results of the poll were released today.

Respondents expressed concern that their best interests as Iowa energy users are not being adequately protected, and 92 percent are concerned that the state will face energy shortages in the future.

Wind farm at the Cerro Gordo Project west of Mason City, Iowa (Photo by Todd Spink courtesy NREL)

Developing new or alternative sources of energy within the state was selected by 71 percent as the one thing that will have the greatest impact on ensuring that Iowa’s energy needs are met over the long term. Yet almost half of the respondents are unwilling to pay more for renewables.

Keeping energy costs as low as possible was ranked more important than ensuring reliable sources of energy and protecting the environment and preventing climate change.

The transportation survey showed that 70 percent of respondents have two to three on-road vehicles. Almost two-thirds reported that public transportation was not available to them. About 80 percent reported driving less as gas prices increased. Half of respondents were not interested in carpooling.

Roughly 47 percent said they were “not at all likely” to purchase a hybrid or electric vehicle in the next three years if the initial cost was five to 10 percent higher than a gasoline powered vehicle; 45 percent were somewhat likely; and nine percent were very likely

Almost all housing survey respondents, 97 percent, believe that being more energy efficient in the home would reduce the amount paid for utilities each month.

Two-thirds believed a highly energy efficient house would cost more to build but would bring a higher selling price than a less-efficient house.

Ninety-three percent would be willing to pay 10 percent more for a home with a high-energy efficiency rating, and 97.6 percent said energy efficiency was important when remodeling their homes.

Most respondents said they would be willing to live near solar and wind farms as compared to nuclear power plants and coal-fired power plants

The survey shows that 61.2 percent are unwilling to live within 10 miles of a nuclear power plant, while 55.4 percent are unwilling to live within 10 miles of a coal-fired power plant. Yet respondents said they preferred to build more nuclear power plants than coal-fired power plants.

“When it comes to what issues must be addressed to ensure a positive future for the state, respondents of the general energy survey ranked education first, followed by economic development and reductions of state government spending,” said Ron Padavich, director of UNI’s Strategic Marketing Services. “Ensuring a safe, clean environment was important to fewer people, but for those few, it was the most important issue.”

“As an energy educator, the results of this poll are very useful,” said Pat Higby, education and outreach coordinator for UNI’s Center for Energy and Environmental Education and a member of the Iowa Power Fund Board of Directors.

“From the results, I can conclude that Iowans want clean, renewable energy and energy efficiency, but they don’t know how to achieve them. The survey helps me gear my educational presentations to fill in the gaps,” Higby said.

The Iowa Energy Poll results showed respondents felt college and university centers and services, like UNI’s Center for Energy and Environmental Education, and their utility providers were the most trustworthy energy efficiency resources, but few were using colleges and universities to get their information.

“It’s our hope that the results can help us determine what is working and what isn’t in regard to energy efficiency, education and policy,” Padavich said. “The results may be used by policymakers, energy providers, consumers, students and educators.”

Click here [www.energy.iowa.gov] to view the complete Iowa Energy Poll, 2008, Final Research & Analysis Report.

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