Pew finds public less concerned about energy; EIA cites changing consumption

Pew finds public less concerned about energy; EIA cites changing consumption

Less of half of the people in the United States now say that energy is a top priority for the president and Congress, according to a recently-released poll from the Pew Research Center.

That’s one of the highlights of energy polling data that Pew has gleaned during the opening months of 2013. Pew made the results available on its website Feb. 28.

Only 45% of the public, with almost no difference between Democrats, Republicans and independents, said in January that energy is a top national priority. By contrast, the figure was 52% in January of 2012 and 60% in January of 2009. Polling on the question was conducted between Jan. 9 and Jan. 13.

A majority of the public puts a priority on developing alternative energy sources like wind, solar and hydrogen. Fewer people said it is more important to expand exploration of oil, coal and natural gas. Only 34% exploration of the traditional fossil fuels a top concern. That figured is based on polling done between Feb. 13 and Feb. 18.

However, unlike the two previous issues, there is a significant partisan divide on the question: 64% of Democrats favor putting the priority on alternative energy sources compared to 33% of Republicans. Conversely, 54% of Republicans think the expansion of exploration and production of oil, coal and natural gas is most important, compared to 28% of Democrats. More than seven-in-ten 71% of adults under 29 prioritize alternative energy sources, a far higher figure than older age groups.

Gizmo factor affects home electricity use

Aside from public attitudes, energy usage patterns are also changing in the typical American home, according to data released March 7 by the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

For decades, space heating and cooling accounted for more than half of all residential energy consumption. But that’s changing, EIA said in its Today in Energy website feature.

The latest available survey data indicates that 48% of energy consumption in U.S. homes in 2009 was for heating and cooling, down from 58% in 1993. That’s partly due to increased efficiency.

While energy used for space conditioning has declined, energy consumption for appliances and electronics continues to rise. “Although some appliances that are subject to federal efficiency standards, such as refrigerators and clothes washers, have become more efficient, the increased number of devices that consume energy in homes has offset these efficiency gains,” EIA said.

Non-weather related energy use for appliances, electronics, water heating, and lighting now accounts for 52% of total consumption, up from 42% in 1993.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.