Homeowners Who Invest in Energy Efficiency: The Demographics

May 1, 2015
Who are the homeowners who invest in energy efficiency, based on their demographics? It’s likely not something you spend a lot of time thinking about — which is why the answers from this survey may be surprising.

Who are the homeowners who invest in energy efficiency, based on their demographics?

It’s likely not something you spend a lot of time thinking about — which is why the answers may be surprising.

The marketing firm KSV polled 1,345 homeowners in five regions of the US who represented diverse demographic segments (age, income, gender, marital status, ethnicity, presence of children, household size, educational level) in January and February. Qualtrics, an online survey firm, fielded the survey, while KSV analyzed all the data.

Listen to Lisa Cohn interview Dave Treston about the results of KSV’s energy efficiency survey.

“Across our survey, Hispanics have shown greater interest, action and participation in energy efficiency programs and measures,” says Dave Treston, senior account planner for KSV.

“Interest in reducing energy consumption at home is highest among Hispanics,” he says. Seventy-eight percent of Hispanics want to reduce consumption in their homes, compared to 71 percent of Asian Americans, 69 percent of African Americans and 61 percent Caucasians.

Hispanics are most likely to engage with energy efficiency or home improvement information online on a daily basis (at least one hour a day), the poll found. Fifty-eight percent of Hispanics view energy efficiency or home improvement content online, compared to 49 percent of Asian Americans, 43 percent of African Americans and 28 percent of Caucasians.

What’s more, Hispanics take action, the poll found. They were more likely than the other groups to make efficiency improvements in the last 12 months.
Sixty-seven percent of Hispanics implemented at least one energy efficiency improvement, while 48 percent of African Americans, 47 percent of Asian Americans and 43 percent of Caucasians made improvements.

And Hispanics do their homework, the poll found. “Hispanics are more familiar with energy efficiency programs, rebates and incentives offered by utilities. Sixty-three percent of Hispanics are familiar, compared to 53 percent of African Americans, 52 percent of Asian Americans and 49 percent of Caucasians,” says Treston.

Participation in utility-sponsored energy efficiency programs is highest among Hispanics and Asian Americans, the poll found. Twenty-six percent of Hispanics and 25 percent of Asian Americans participated in a utility sponsored rebate program in the last year, compared to 19 percent of African Americans and 17 percent of Caucasians.

While Hispanics have been the most active, African Americans also demonstrate interest in energy efficiency and take action, Treston says.

“African Americans are most likely to perceive their homes as inefficient. Forty-seven percent of African Americans believe their home is inefficient, compared to 33 percent of Hispanics, 29 percent of Caucasians and 25 percent of Asian Americans,” he says. The poll almost found that 68 percent of African Americans said they did not participate in a rebate program but would like to learn more, compared to 65 percent of Hispanics, 63 percent of Asian Americans and 61 percent of Caucasians.

The results weren’t surprising to the researchers. They’ve seen these trends before, says Treston. “Hispanics and African Americans are more likely to care about environmental issues. As data indicates, both groups feel a disproportionate amount of the ill effects of industrial pollution and thus they are more likely to support environmental causes. There are connections to that idea and being more energy efficient at home, so it is not particularly surprising to see Hispanics and African Americans expressing interest and action.”

The study also found that nearly 60 percent of homeowners report that they enjoy taking on home improvement and DIY projects, yet fewer than half (46 percent) made an energy efficiency improvement in the past year. In addition, less than 10 percent rate their homes as very efficient, yet 63 percent want a more efficient home.

“Across the country, the seeds have been planted about the importance of energy efficiency. But, in general, utilities are doing a poor job translating that sentiment into consumer action,” said a KSV press release.

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About the Author

Lisa Cohn | Contributing Editor

I focus on the West Coast and Midwest. Email me at [email protected]

I’ve been writing about energy for more than 20 years, and my stories have appeared in EnergyBiz, SNL Financial, Mother Earth News, Natural Home Magazine, Horizon Air Magazine, Oregon Business, Open Spaces, the Portland Tribune, The Oregonian, Renewable Energy World, Windpower Monthly and other publications. I’m also a former stringer for the Platts/McGraw-Hill energy publications. I began my career covering energy and environment for The Cape Cod Times, where Elisa Wood also was a reporter. I’ve received numerous writing awards from national, regional and local organizations, including Pacific Northwest Writers Association, Willamette Writers, Associated Oregon Industries, and the Voice of Youth Advocates. I first became interested in energy as a student at Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut, where I helped design and build a solar house.

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