WASHINGTON — Four out of five American consumers and energy professionals view energy efficiency as a personal priority and at least two out of three believe it could significantly reduce overall energy use if not for political squabbling, two new surveys indicate.

Findings from the separate surveys, conducted by The University of Texas at Austin and the nonprofit OurEnergyPolicy.org, were released during an event at the National Press Club where a panel of leaders in policy, academia, and industry shared ideas and insights on future energy efficiency policy.

The UT Energy Poll found that 79 percent of American consumers view energy efficiency as a priority, up from 72 percent six months ago.

“It’s encouraging that most Americans, as well as informed energy industry professionals, place such a high priority on energy efficiency,” said Sheril Kirshenbaum, director of the UT Energy Poll.

“Our survey showed a significant uptick in the number of consumers who say they’re likely to invest in a wide range of energy efficiency products over the next five years,” she added.

The OurEnergyPolicy.org survey revealed an even higher level of support, with 82 percent of energy professionals indicating energy efficiency was a high or very high personal priority. Less than 1 percent said energy efficiency was not a personal priority.

Bill Squadron, OurEnergyPolicy.org president, described the poll results as “both heartening and disappointing.”

Squadron said, “The fact that both energy consumers and professionals regard energy efficiency as a priority is good news, but our broken political system must be fixed if we are going to make progress.

“At OurEnergyPolicy.org we’re trying to bring all sides to the table for meaningful conversation about solving America’s energy problems.”

Both surveys showed that at least 65 percent of respondents see “political squabbling or stalemate” as a significant barrier to making more energy efficient goods and services available to consumers.

Nearly half of the respondents in both surveys said improving the energy efficiency of their home HVAC system would save them more money than improving home lighting, appliances, and personal vehicles.

Survey respondents differed when asked where the U.S. should spend the most money on research and development. Fifty-four percent of energy professionals participating in the OurEnergyPolicy.org poll indicated a preference for spending on energy efficiency measures, compared with 41 percent of consumers in the UT Energy Poll. While 40 percent of American consumers indicated they would like to see the most government spending on renewable energy programs, 32 percent of energy professionals said the same.

Energy professionals also indicated a strong preference for the federal government to take the lead on pushing energy efficiency (46 percent), compared with 36 percent of American consumers.

The UT Energy poll was launched in October 2011 to provide an objective, authoritative look at consumer attitudes and perspectives on key energy issues. For more information, visit www.utenergypoll.com.

OurEnergyPolicy.org is an online platform for experts from all perspectives to engage in discussion on energy policy. For more information, visit www.ourenergypolicy.org.

Publication date: 5/26/2014 

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