RTCC logo

US consumers respond to energy independence not efficiency

By John Parnell

Energy independence rather than the benefits of cutting carbon emissions, could be the key to persuading some US shoppers to invest in energy efficiency, according to a new study.

Conservative-minded voters were put off by labelling promoting the environmental credentials of products such as more efficient light bulbs.

“A popular strategy for marketing energy efficiency is to focus on its environmental benefits,” said Dena Gromet, the lead author of the research.

“But not everyone values protecting the environment. We were interested in whether promoting the environment could in fact deter some individuals from purchasing energy efficient options that they would have otherwise selected,” added Gromet.

Some US shoppers are likely to be deterred by environmental labelling (Source: Flickr/fotograf-zahl)

The paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that this was indeed the case.

The first study surveyed 657 US adults, 49% men, ranging in age from 19-81 about how they valued energy efficiency, reducing CO2 emissions and cutting dependence on foreign oil.

The more conservative the respondent, the less value they placed on energy efficiency.

Energy independence was universally popular.


In the second half of the research, 210 participants were given $2 to spend on a lightbulb and told they could keep the change. They were given the choice of an incandescent bulb costing 50¢ and a fluorescent bulb costing $1.50.

The energy saving bulb was selected in large numbers however when a label was added to it saying “protect the environment”, conservatives were less likely to choose it.

“These findings demonstrate that a one-size-fits-all approach is unlikely to be successful for making energy-efficient products appealing to consumers,” said Larrick.

“People have different energy-related values which can influence their choices, including leading them to reject options that they recognize as having long-term economic benefits. In many cases, a tailored message may be needed to reach different market segments.”


Read more on: | |

Related News

LED costs to halve as efficiency doubles by 2020 – US Dept of Energy

Analysis: efficiency can be at the heart of EU energy policy

Energy efficiency: the gift that keeps on giving

IEA: energy efficiency is world’s ‘hidden fuel’

  • http://www.facebook.com/sid.abma.1 Sid Abma

    Why is those 2 words – Energy Efficiency always so focused on electricity?

    The mall in the picture, how much natural gas does it take to heat that building?

    The products sold in all these stores, what products were Not touched by natural gas in the processing of these goods?

    Is natural gas being used to create the power to generate the electricity to have all these lights and computers operating?
    How much heat energy is going up the chimneys of all the natural gas appliances involved in the above processes? Could this effect Global Warming and the amount of CO2 being put into the atmosphere?
    It’s time to recognize Increasing Natural Gas Energy Efficiency for what it can do for America’s Economy and America’s Environment.

  • CDD5

    The author states “But not everyone values protecting the environment” implying the “conservative minded” voters. Conservatives including myself do value the environment, we just are of the opinion that a number of measures go overboard and that the interpretation of the data used to justify some policies is faulty.

  • Philip Allsopp

    but not surprising given Wall Street’s incessant demands for growth and
    the assumptions made by economists that the resources needed to fuel
    that growth are unlimited. Economists and others also seem to be stuck
    on the idea that the more energy we consume the “better standard of
    living” we can enjoy. Couple this with the breathless talking heads on
    TV telling us what next – and who next – we need to be afraid of (so we
    stay glued to the TV and the incessant commercials exhorting us to buy
    and buy and buy) and its no wonder that the levels of paranoia are high
    and that energy security pops up as a key reason for investing in energy

    Sadly we’ve become a society (not just the US, I might add) where the
    act of shopping is as comforting as a dose of Valium. Both insulate us
    from the realities of the world we inhabit; realities our children will
    surely have to confront after we have spent our lives working our rear
    ends off for a small handful of trillionaire bankers just so we can
    afford the small but fleeting comforts of a new purchase.

    The price of this way of life seems to me to be getting pretty steep and
    unmanageable. Last year of the $2.7Trillion we in the US spent on all
    forms of health care, nearly half of it went to treating lifestyle-based
    diseases (hypertension, heart diseases, diabetes, obesity, depression,
    blindness, amputations etc.); the conditions that result from what we
    eat, where we live and how active we are. Human habitat (our built and
    natural environments of our settlements – cities, towns, rural areas
    etc) not only accounts for around 70% of our energy appetite (this
    includes about 20% for transportation to and from as well as within our
    settlements), but the way it is laid out, planned and regulated defines
    how active a life we tend to pursue, a key driver in our enormous health
    care spend.

    I think that resources and well-being are inextricably linked but at
    the moment we operate under the assumption that if we consume more, we
    will feel better. If we really home in on the dynamics and drivers of
    well-being, we might well find that consuming fewer resources can make
    the environments we inhabit healthier and safer places to be, and the
    lives we lead less worrisome and a lot more fulfilling. If these turn
    out to have something to do with well-being, we might find that energy
    security evaporates as a nagging concern and disappears as a reason for
    making the places we inhabit far more appealing, efficient and effective
    than so many are today.

  • David Adio-moses

    Energy efficiency to protect the environment is a moral issue and a responsibility that Governments are supposed to enforce by regulations. human beings normally use our freedom to destroy our environment. people generally do not care and that is why the global pollution today is alarming. even when people learn about the benefits of energy efficiency on the environment, they are not interested in preserving the earth due to selfish reasons.

    The global situation reminds me of the difference between children and adults. people who care more about their personal wants rather than safeguarding a healthy environment are like children who want something immediately and cannot exercise the patience (or sacrifice) to delay gratification based on maturity. the general attitude from country to country gives you an idea of countries that are more mature and more responsible in their thinking.