Public perceptions of energy consumption

In a national online survey, 505 participants reported their perceptions of energy consumption and savings for a variety of household, transportation, and recycling activities. When asked for the most effective strategy they could implement to conserve energy, most participants mentioned curtailment (e.g., turning off lights, driving less) rather than efficiency improvements (e.g., installing more efficient light bulbs and appliances), in contrast to experts’ recommendations. For a sample of 15 activities, participants underestimated energy use and savings by a factor of 2.8 on average, with small overestimates for low-energy activities and large underestimates for high-energy activities. Additional estimation and ranking tasks also yielded relatively flat functions for perceived energy use and savings. Across several tasks, participants with higher numeracy scores and stronger proenvironmental attitudes had more accurate perceptions. The serious deficiencies highlighted by these results suggest that well-designed efforts to improve the public’s understanding of energy use and savings could pay large dividends. 

Source: PNAS

In this PNAS paper Attari, used the following questions in their survey:

  1. Energy-Saving Behaviors
  2. Energy Consumed by the Average Household
  3. Energy Used by Devices in One Hour
  4. Energy Saved in the Household
  5. Energy Used to Transport Goods
  6. Energy Saved in Transportation
  7. Energy Used in Recycling and Manufacturing
  8. Ease or Difficulty of Energy-Saving Behaviors
  9. Attitudes
  10. Climate Change Attitudes
  11. Math Questions
  12. Demographics


Narrowing the US energy gap

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