It's official, the recession has triggered interest in the kind of environmental innovation that makes a difference today, and not the kind that might make a difference someday. Instead of looking at getting a Prius or solar panels that will likely never pay for themselves, consumers are thinking of low-tech, quick-return energy-saving measures.
According to a new survey from The Shelton Group, 71% of people considered buying energy efficient products "to save money" vs. 55% who said it was "to protect the environment." That's a direct switch from the group's 2007 and 2006's surveys.
Consumers were looking at taking (or had already taken) a bunch of energy-related decisions that would likely save them some green.
- 44 percent responded they are likely to buy a programmable thermostat; 32 percent already have.
- 43 percent responded they are likely to install insulation in their homes; 26 percent already have.
- 42 percent responded that they are to install a higher-efficiency water heater; 26 percent already have.
On the other hand, decisions that might help only the environment, and not their wallet were much less desireable.
- Installed natural / indigenous / low water landscaping – 13 percent.
- Participate in utility’s green power program – 9 percent.
- Buy carbon offsets for plane trips or for home – 6 percent.
Of course, I'm ambivalent about this news. I know that the greatest amount of good we can do right here and right now is to use less energy through efficiency. But we also need to look to the future. Green power programs create incentives for people to build more renewable energy at a time when renewables are young, and every dollar helps.
We need to direct money to these young utilities now, because every dollar makes a huge difference in these early years. And even though sometimes we don't make our money back, buying green cars and green power is an investment in our future. Though, to be frank, investments of all sorts have gotten a rather bad rap lately, so maybe I should stop using that terminology.
written by Sid Abma, March 24, 2009
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