More energy efficient consumers? Thank the recession

A new survey of 3,000 consumers done by Deloitte and The Harrison Group says the economic recession – not environmental concerns – serves as a motivator for reductions in energy usage.

When asked what would motivate them the most to change their current energy practices, survey respondents answered more in favor of ideas related to improving U.S. independence from overseas oil and to economic growth.

For example, 69 percent were “extremely or very motivated” to change their habits by the statement “Development of alternative energy in the U.S. can create many jobs here while reducing dependence of foreign oil.”

The statement “Conventional forms of energy like oil and coal are creating global toxicities and global warming we need to avoid through use of alternative energies” prompted just 44 percent to call the statement “very motivating.”

The survey was unveiled today at the CleanTech Forum in San Francisco. It’s a pretty in-depth piece of work, which you can view in more detail in the PowerPoint presentation below.

About 45 percent of Americans have directly felt the pain of the recession, due to factors such as a job loss or income reductions, according to Deloitte. This has helped create a surge in consumers being resourceful, cutting back on their costs more aggressively.

Around 68 percent of the consumers said they took extra steps to cut their electric bills because of the recession.

That reduced demand may actually be permanent – 95 percent said they do not intend to increase their electricity use even as the economy improves.

They survey also reaffirms a lack of knowledge about energy among Americans.

Most people in the survey – 63 percent — didn’t know whether or not they lived in a deregulated electric market, meaning one where there was more than just one company that owns the power plants, power lines and sells electricity to customer.

The survey also concludes that Generation Y (which the survey considers 21- to 34-year-olds) is less informed about energy in general but eager to adopt anything high-tech — including “smart energy” applications like smart meters, in-home energy monitors and control devices.

2011 Deloitte Harris Efficiency Survey Power Point 2