NEW YORK, Aug. 17 (UPI) — Americans are generally in the dark when it comes to the most efficient ways to save energy, U.S. researchers say.
A survey by Columbia University researchers found the majority believe they can save energy with small changes in lifestyles, while completely underestimating the major effects of changing over to efficient, currently available technology, a university release said Monday.
The largest group, nearly 20 percent, said turning off lights was the best approach — an action that affects energy budgets relatively little, researchers say. Very few thought about purchase decisions like more efficient cars that experts say could significantly cut U.S. energy consumption, the survey found.
In general, the survey author says, people tend to believe in what she calls curtailment.
“That is, keeping the same behavior, but doing less of it,” Shahzeen Attari of Columbia University’s Earth Institute said. “But switching to efficient technologies generally allows you to maintain your behavior, and save a great deal more energy.”
As an example, she cited high-efficiency light bulbs that can be kept on all the time and still save more than minimizing the use of low-efficiency ones.
People typically are willing to take one or two actions to address a perceived problem, Attari says, but after that they start to believe they have done all they can.
“Of course we should be doing everything we can. But if we’re going to do just one or two things, we should focus on the big energy-saving behaviors,” Attari said. “People are still not aware of what the big savers are.”
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