I’m not trying to start an argument here, but we Americans are not the global flag-bearers for energy efficiency we might think we are.
I’ve spent some time this week with a recent Accenture study, “Understanding Consumer Preferences in Energy Efficiency” that reached out to more than 9,100 people in 17 countries including Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Japan, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, and the US.
Here are a few key indicators of how Americans stack up to their global counterparts.
- European consumers, especially those in Denmark and Germany, are most aware of the potential environmental impacts of electricity consumption (59%). Americans ranked below the global average (42%) at 36% who agreed that “Electricity consumption of individuals has a negative impact on the environment.”
- When asked if they understand what actions they can take to optimize energy consumption, Americans once again fell behind the Europeans. Residents of The Netherlands and France ranked highest at 86% and 85% respectively, while 77% of Americans agreed. This is only two percentage points above the global average.
- Only a third of Americans have heard of programs that will help them manage and optimize their electricity consumption. While this is above the global average, that’s little comfort when put in context – that means that two-thirds of Americans don’t know about the billions of dollars available to help them be more energy efficient.
- Globally, respondents said they would turn to their utility companies for information first; however, when asked what organizations they most trust to provide information on actions they can take, utility companies ranked fourth, behind environmental associations, academic and scientific associations, and consumer associations. In the US, only 29% said they trusted their utility companies to provide them with that kind of information.
Based on this data, as well as our insights from Energy Pulse 2010, we know there’s still considerable work to be done to make our homes and our country more energy efficient. Maybe it’s time to start widening our aperture when searching for success stories. Maybe it’s time to start looking at some global best practices and learning from their experiences. And maybe next time, this country will perform better than the global average.