New Poll: More Virginians Taking Steps to Save Energy and Plan to Do More - Northern Michigan's News Leader

New Poll: More Virginians Taking Steps to Save Energy and Plan to Do More

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SOURCE Virginia Energy Sense

Following long winter, 4 in 10 changing routines, willing to invest more to curb energy use

RICHMOND, Va., May 15, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In the wake of a harsh winter and higher energy bills, a new statewide Virginia survey finds that a majority of residents see energy as a very important source of household savings. Accordingly, residents are planning steps to reduce their daily energy use and are willing to invest more to achieve greater savings. Four in 10 Virginians say they will make changes to their routine to reduce energy consumption, according to the survey from Virginia Energy Sense, the state-sponsored energy efficiency education program managed by the State Corporation Commission.

The survey finds that 9 in 10 Virginians believe saving energy is important, with nearly 70 percent calling it very important. More than 80 percent of respondents are motivated to save energy to curb their energy bills while two-thirds believe it is important to save energy to protect the environment.  

More than half of Virginians report they are taking basic steps to save energy, including converting to energy efficient light bulbs and powering off electronics. Four in 10 say they have caulked, sealed air leaks and installed a programmable thermostat. Virginians aged 35-54 are most likely to already be taking action, while those aged 18-34 indicate the highest interest in doing more in the next year.

"Virginians are making a strong effort to curb their energy use, but this survey shows that the majority of residents want to learn and do more," said Andy Farmer, who manages the Virginia Energy Sense Program. "Fortunately, there are a range of things for any budget that households can do to save energy, from changing habits and using low-cost gadgets that make conservation simple, to energy audits and improvements that better insulate the home." 

Some 70% of Virginians are highly interested in learning more about ways to save energy, according to the poll, with greatest interest in the Newport News and Norfolk area. Continued education is important because nearly two-thirds (65%) of Virginians who do not feel knowledgeable about energy efficiency believe it is too expensive for them to address or they don't have enough time to do so.

In a particular bright spot in the poll, nearly half of residents (48%) said they are willing to spend more than $100 annually on energy-saving investments, an 8% increase from a Virginia Energy Sense survey conducted in 2012. In Northern Virginia, 28% of those polled said they would invest between $100 and $500 annually in energy-efficient home improvements. One quarter of homeowners in Central Virginia are willing to invest more than $500, which was top among regions.

Virginia Energy Sense's mission is to help residents better understand their energy use and to educate them on ways to be more efficient. Virginia has set a goal to reduce energy consumption by 10% below 2006 levels by 2022.

To help residents take steps to conserve, Virginia Energy Sense provides a comprehensive suite of tips and resources including a Do-It-Yourself Guide; an online Home Energy Test to help assess a home's energy-saving potential; a database of financial incentives available; and a guide to finding local energy organizations and qualified energy professionals for audits and retrofits. Virginia Energy Sense is also participating in community events across the Commonwealth this spring and summer where residents can stop by to receive educational materials and energy-saving gadgets.

The research was conducted by KRC Research via a statewide telephone survey from Feb. 15-21, 2014 among Virginia adults age 18 or older. The margin of sampling error is +/- 4.4%.

Consumer Tips for Summer Savings
With summer just around the corner, here are some of the many ways Virginians can improve the energy efficiency of their home and help keep summer cooling costs in check:

  • Properly using a programmable thermostat can cut down on A/C units running when you're away from home, saving up to $180 annually. Make it even easier with a "smart" thermostat you can control from your smartphone.
  • Regularly replace air filters to reduce your AC unit's energy use by 5% to 15% percent. An inexpensive air filter whistle can help you remember it's time to change by singing when the filter gets clogged.
  • Reducing your water heater's temperature to 120° should be sufficient for most homes – especially over the summer – and help avoid about $60 in standby heat loss. Wrapping it an insulation jacket can improve the water heater's efficiency up to 75%.
  • Adjust fans to spin counterclockwise to cool the air; it can help reduce cooling costs by more than 10%. For window-mounted AC units, add weather sealing to reduce air leaks.
  • Cooking with a crockpot not only saves you time, but uses nearly half the energy of a conventional oven. Using the outdoor grill to prepare your meal will also help keep your home cool and comfortable.

For a complete list of energy saving tips, visit virginiaenergysense.org.

About Virginia Energy Sense
Virginia Energy Sense is the Commonwealth's statewide consumer education and outreach program under the guidance of the State Corporation Commission. It was created by the General Assembly to help Virginia residents understand how to save energy at home, work and school in support of the state's goal to reduce energy consumption by 10%. Saving energy just makes good sense and Virginia Energy Sense encourages all Virginians to "value your power." The program provides tools and information to help consumers understand their energy bill and take action to reduce it. Visit us at www.virginiaenergysense.org or follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

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