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Report: Liberals and Conservatives Can at Least Agree on Energy Savings

Eric Justian
| Friday June 21st, 2013 | 1 Comment
Liberals and Conservatives agree: Saving energy is good

Liberals and Conservatives agree: Saving energy is good

Isn’t it wonderful when we can transcend politics and finally agree on something?

A new Opower report shows that Liberals and Conservatives alike have an equal tendency to save energy “when presented with personalized analysis of their energy consumption.”

It turns out they both like saving energy in a box. They like saving it with a fox. They like saving it here and there. In fact, the report goes on, they like saving it everywhere.

Of course I’m paraphrasing.

Opower produces customized energy reports for homes and businesses using very intuitive imagery and language. With a user’s permission it syncs up with their utility company’s account and pulls actual energy use data. Users can compare their monthly usage to their friends’ usage, get “badges” when they significantly reduce power use over a period of time, see how they compare to average homes and energy efficient homes, and get energy saving tips.

And it works. I can personally attest to that. I use it and have found myself anxious to get my monthly energy use report to see how I fared over the past month, especially relative to my friends. Bragging rights or something. But it’s definitely given me an easy and engaging metric by which to measure and improve my energy efficiency. If it’s available to you, give it a shot. It’s free for power users.

The company’s new report looked at the energy use of about 100,000 Opower users and determined political stance from publicly available sources. What the company found is that Liberals, Conservatives, and Independents on average all reduce their power use by 2 percent, give or take, when presented with their usage data.

Below is a graph from Opower’s blog  which shows data from the Midwest….

LibsandCons-03

Here’s a graph from the same blog post that shows data from the Northeast, Mountain West, and Southeast…

LibsandCons-021

What exactly does a 2 percent savings mean? It means cost savings and efficiency. Roughly speaking, in the State of Michigan a  2 percent statewide reduction in power usage would mean about 600 MW less power production. That’s a whole power plant that doesn’t need to be built! And a whole lot of money saved. Power plants are expensive and we pay for those with our rates. And who doesn’t like saving money? Apparently nobody.

Partisan agreement on energy efficiency may come as a surprise to some in light of a recent experiment which showed Conservatives are less likely to purchase an energy efficient light bulb if the packaging touts its environmental benefits. According to that study “Green” labeling, for some, negatively overrides the money savings desirability of a product. Maybe it trips a negative neural pathway in some Conservatives in much the same way the word “wholesome” on a package makes me cringe.  It’s not that I dislike wholesome things. It’s just one of those good sounding but non-committal words that really means nothing when it’s printed on a package of gum.

Anyway, in the absence of “green” messaging, disparate political ideologies unsurprisingly like to have more money in their pocket and save energy.

Another heartening sign of agreement can be found in a survey on renewable energy use among different political ideologies, conducted by ORC International and titled “Americans and Energy Policy: The Myth of the Partisan Divide.”  The poll shows that a majority of Liberals and Conservatives alike favor a move toward greater renewable energy use, saying in the overview ” Contrary to what appears to be assumed by some political commentators, there is no major partisan divide among Americans on clean energy policy questions. In fact, the survey data reflect largely bipartisan agreement in terms of both concerns about key issues and also favored courses of action”

It’s good to see there are some things we can more or less agree on.

[Photo Credit: DonkeyHotey – Source]


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  • Alessandra Ribeiro

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