Energy Audits May Be a Tough Sell [Survey]

Harris Interactive surveyed 3,171 adults during the week of Valentines, February 14 – February 21, and asked them all sort of questions about energy, energy efficiency, and power sources. I found some surprising information in the results — i.e., 56% of Americans have never heard the term “smart grid.” Perhaps even more astonishing, only 11% of American have conducted a home energy evaluation or home energy audit.

Specifically, Harris Interactive asked survey participants the following question: Which of the following have you done to improve energy efficiency in your place of living?

In the low-hanging fruit department, 84% of Americans turn off TVs, lights, and other things when not in use. Also, 60% of Americans replace incandescent bulbs with efficient lights and use power strips with their electronics. 53% of Americans look for Energy Star when replacing small appliances.

But less than a majority of Americans do things like weather strip windows and doors (38%), change air filters (35%), seal gaps in floors, walls, or around pipes (33%), install low-flow faucets and showerheads (29%), add insulation to attic, walls, and crawl space (25%), or conduct a home energy evaluation or audit (11%).

I’m not sure why home energy audit/evaluation has such a low response number.  Some audit tools are available online for free.  Plus, an audit/evaluation should be the first step when undertaking a system or efficiency improvement.  On the flip side, I guess this means the market is full of opportunity.

Anyone have any thoughts about what’s behind the numbers?

[+] Read The Harris Poll re: Energy and Energy Efficiency.

  • Justin

    I personally don’t feel the stats on audit numbers mean that much. I would bet a good number of people who care about efficiency have a good idea where to start on their own and don’t need an audit. There’s a ton of info available everywhere and the specific items mentioned in your chart above are close to becoming common knowledge and are quite generic.

  • Artboy

    I had my home audited a few years ago as a first step in accessing a Federal gov’t grant for eco-refits. The deal was that you did a “before” test, fixed the problems outlined in that report – and then had an “after” test done. The amount of grant $ your home was eligible for was then based on how leaky it was and how much improvement you made. My 45 year old, not terribly well built house got an average “before” score, but I would have had to sink many thousands into updates to get back a really paltry amount of money from the grants. It would not have been enough to even cover the cost of the testing. I never called the company back for the “after” test. (why waste the $?) I’ve done the big, obvious stuff for now.
    I’ve since advised friends and family to just spend the money on caulking/weatherstripping,etc and skip the tests.

  • Garsimo50

    Yes, there is a ton of information out there regarding home energy efficiency. Changing a light bulb takes one person, not two. I would bet a good number of people who care about efficiency knows where to start and may not care if there is a measurable result with savings to investment. But there are others who want to make informed decisions about remodels, retrofits and major upgrades to indoor air quality in their homes. What specifically is actually required to meet those goals? Can they go online or up to the building supply and get accurate information about their home’s specific needs? There is nothing wrong about doing it yourself. But if you don’t get it right you might waste a lot of money and/or put your health at risk with unsafe air quality.

  • David Fay

    I think the statement about energy audits is worded poorly. As it reads, it’s about the homeowner doing an energy audit themselves (“which of the following have you done”). But most people have someone else do it for them. So I wouldn’t pay too much attention to the numbers.

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