Everyone likes to save energy, right? You’re reducing your impact on the environment and saving money on utility bills at the same time – talk about a win-win scenario. However, despite the obvious benefits, the percentage of Americans who take energy efficiency steps in their lives is actually dropping, according to a recent poll. Read on to find out more.

Commitment to Energy-Saving Decisions

The survey, conducted by the Harris Poll, did contain some good news. A relatively high percentage of respondents take some actions to reduce their energy use – 75 percent of people, for example, said that they turn off lights and televisions when they aren't being used. That's a good first step. However, last year the number was 79 percent, and it reached as high as 82 percent in 2012. What gives?

One explanation is that money talks. Natural gas and oil prices have been relatively low in recent years, so people just might not be paying attention to every last megawatt.

"Even though understanding of energy sources remains at historical levels, in the last few years fewer consumers are taking steps to reduce energy consumption in their homes," Carol M. Gstalder, Reputation & Public Relations Practice Leader for Harris Poll, said in a press release. "As energy prices drop, so do consumers' commitment to energy-saving decisions from replacing light bulbs and water heaters to installing solar."

Lax Attention Across the Board

The Harris Poll laid out other areas where the survey found a reduction in consumer efficiency strategies:

  • Replacing incandescent bulbs with fluorescent bulbs (50%, down from 55% in 2014 and 58% in 2012)
  • Looking for the ENERGY STAR label when replacing appliances (47%, down from 50% in 2014 and 55% in 2012)
  • Using low watt bulbs where lighting isn't critical (46%, down from 50% in 2014 and 54% in 2012)
  • Using power strips for home electronics (44%, down from 49% in 2014 and 56% in 2012)
  • Reducing hot water use with steps like taking shorter showers or using cold water in their washer's rinse cycle (40%, down from 45% in 2014 and 48% in 2012)

Renewable Fuels Popular, Coal Not so Much

Taking another tack, Americans have some strong opinions about what types of fuels are best to keep feeding our energy addiction. Renewables are popular, with 78 and 75 percent of respondents saying that the benefits of solar and wind, respectively, outweigh the costs.

Getting the short end of the opinion stick were nuclear energy and coal. About 42 percent of respondents thought the risks outweighed the benefits for nuclear, with only 34 percent responding positively. And 46 percent of people gave a thumbs-down to coal, with 34 percent still in favor.

How You Can Do Better

If you want to uncover more ways to save energy in your home, have a home services technician conduct an energy audit to discover any waste and inefficiencies. You'll be in a knowledgeable minority: Only 11 percent of Americans have had an energy audit, the poll found.

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