What Ordinary Citizens Are Doing To Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions At Home

A new study conducted by Ipsos Reid on behalf of Icynene examined what North Americans are doing to cut greenhouse gas emissions at home. The study was completed in both the United States and Canada and examined attitudes and perceptions concerning environmental measures taken at home.

Majority Have Taken Action In Own Home

Americans are putting their words into action, with two thirds (64%) of homeowners saying that they have done either `some' (54%) or `a lot' (11%) to personally help reduce greenhouse gases by increasing energy efficiency in their own homes. Conversely, one third (36%) say that they have `done little' (30%) or `nothing at all' (6%) to increase energy efficiency in their own homes.

Those results are mirrored in Canada where eight in ten (79%) homeowners say they have done either `some' (63%) or `a lot' (16%) to personally help reduce greenhouse gases by increasing energy efficiency in their own homes. On the flip side, two in ten (20%) say that they have `done little' (18%) or `nothing at all' (3%) to increase energy efficiency in their own homes.

Homeowners Don't Think That They're A Problem

Very few homeowners believe that homes and offices contribute most to the recent increases in greenhouse gasses. Despite the recent push to save energy in homes and offices, only a small portion feel that they are the biggest contributor to greenhouse gasses. Placing the blame primarily on industry (37%) and emissions from cars and trucks (36%), there is uniformity among all demographic groupings in America to the notion that homes and offices are not the biggest contributor.

Canadian homeowners are very similar to their American cousins. Primarily blaming industry, half of Canadian homeowners (49%) say that emissions from factories in industrial manufacturing `contribute most to apparent increases in greenhouse gasses'. Next in line for the blame game are emissions produced from cars and automobiles (37%), followed by deforestation (7%), emissions from homes and offices (3%), and emissions caused by farming practices and livestock (3%).

However, people may not be all that accurate in their assessment of the leading causes of greenhouse gas emissions. Admittedly, nearly half (46%) of Americans either somewhat agree (35%) or completely (11%) agree with the statement that they `do not know much about environmental issues and the impact of greenhouse gas emissions on the environment', despite the increased coverage of this topic in the media over the past while. In this vein, only two in ten American homeowners (18%) believe that installing insulation is most important in helping to conserve energy at home. A third (31%) of Canadians feel that `they do not know much' about environmental issues and the impact of greenhouse gas emissions on the environment, despite the increased coverage of this topic in the media over the past while. Similarly, only two in ten Canadian homeowners (18%) believe that installing insulation is most important in helping to conserve energy at home.

Taking Action for Energy Conservation

In the United States, the most common methods of reducing energy in the home are turning down the heat in the winter (75%), turning down the air conditioner in the summer (63%), and sealing air leaks (52%). The most common methods among Canadians of reducing energy in the home are turning down the heat in the winter (83%), sealing air leaks (61%), and turning down the air conditioner in the summer (46%).

Despite the recent push towards the use of compact fluorescent light bulbs in homes, only 6% of Americans and 7% of Canadians believe that this tactic is the most important in helping to conserve energy at home.

In addition to these commonly-used methods, one third (32%) of American homeowners and nearly four in ten (38%) Canadian homeowners have installed insulation over the past two years in order to be more energy efficient. Among those who have not already purchased insulation to increase energy efficiency in their own homes, 14% in the US and 13% in Canada plan to add insulation in the next few months in order to better protect their homes.

Americans and Canadians: Similar but Different

A comparison of the two nations reveals that while almost one third (33%) of Canadians agree that they `do not know much about environmental issues and the impact of greenhouse gas emissions on the environment', almost half (46%) of Americans agree with that sentiment--a 13 point gap. To a similar spread, eight in ten (79%) Canadians claim to have taken action to `personally help reduce greenhouse gases' in the home, while only two thirds (64%) of Americans claim to have done the same, representing a 15 point gap. Some other interesting comparisons are:

  • Americans are most likely (37%) to be influenced by a non-profit organization, such as the American Lung Association, on issues of the environment. This differs from Canadians, where almost half (47%) are likely to be influenced by Dr. David Suzuki.
  • Four in ten (38%) Canadians have installed insulation in the past two years, while only one third (32%) of Americans have done the same.
  • A comparable proportion of Americans (14%) and Canadians (13%) intend to install insulation to help reduce energy consumption during the summer months.

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos Reid poll conducted on behalf of Icynene from April 19 to April 23, 2007. For the survey, a representative randomly selected sample of 1236 adult homeowners was interviewed online. With a sample of this size, the results are considered accurate to within 177 2.7 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what they would have been had the entire adult population been polled. The margin of error will be larger within regions and for other sub-groupings of the survey population. These data were weighted to ensure that the sample's regional and age/sex composition reflects that of the actual population according to Census data.

For more Information, please contact:

John Wright Senior Vice President Ipsos Reid Public Affairs (416) 324-2900 John.Wright@ipsos-reid.com

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