Energy Efficiency and Canadians – Opinion Research for The Canadian Energy Efficiency Alliance
Executive Summary – April 2013
The Gandalf Group conducted a national opinion survey with Canadians on behalf of CEEA. The survey was conducted with a representative sample of the Canadian population online in February 2013 (sample size n=1584).
The research found that most Canadians have taken at least some steps to conserve energy – 37% have done a great deal, only 17% have done little to nothing. And 75 per cent of Canadians believer that conserving energy is very important. They are most likely to be engaging in electricity conservation, with more Canadians relying on electrical power than gasoline or natural gas.
Canadians Believe They Can Do More
However there is much more they can do. Most said they intend to do more than they have to date – 58% – while 22% said they’re already doing everything they can.
Most Canadians (between 53% to 55%) believe that installing basic home improvements tested (such as specifically programmable thermostats, improved insulation, or upgrades to doors and windows) will help households save a great deal of money. Still more (60% to 66%) believe various changes in behaviour can help them save a great deal of money: i.e. washing in cold water, driving less/taking transit/walking, or adjusting thermostats when away from the home.
Most believe that these improvements or changes are environmentally friendly too: with 76% saying driving less, 68% saying improving insulation in the home and 63% saying using cold water would all be very beneficial to the environment.
What Canadians Are Doing
Most Canadians have installed or bought new light bulbs (CFLs) (81%), energy efficient appliances (72%), programmable thermostats (57%) and upgraded doors/windows/weather-stripping (54%). And most Canadians almost always or regularly turn the heat down when away or at night (69%) or wash using cold water (73%).
While most said that driving less (and walking or taking transit) would be very beneficial to the environment and would help save a great deal of money, less than half (43%) said they are always or regularly following through on this.
Fewer still (29%) said they are regularly unplugging appliances such as TVs, however in this case less than half said this would be very beneficial for the environment or help save a great deal.
How to Encourage Canadians to Do More
Advanced analysis of the data shows that what is significantly associated with increased conservation are:
- Environmental motivation;
- Perceived cost savings; and
- Knowledge of how to conserve.
All matter and work together. None take the place of the other. So to the extent that you increase any of the three, and optimally, all of the three, you are increasing the likelihood that someone will conserve.
For any energy savings investment, interest is substantially higher if upfront cost can be reduced to two years.
- 66% of home owners and home buyers were very interested in an energy retrofit that cost $1,000 if the payback is 2 years. If the payback is 5 years, interest drops to 22%.
- Energy efficient appliances have to offer a reasonable return on investment since many think they cost more to buy.
Just one in four Canadians strongly agreed that they know a lot about how to conserve energy in their daily life. Half feel they are somewhat equipped.
The Energy Efficiency Initiatives Canadians Support
There is strong support and little real opposition to government acting to mandate and help or encourage Canadians to do more in this area. There is strong support for subsidies for energy retrofits and renovations of $1k+. Support is as high among renters as among home owners.
There is strong support for mandating energy efficiencies in new constructions. More than 40% of Canadians strongly support and three quarters at least somewhat support requiring more fuel efficient cars even if it increases the price of those vehicles.