UT Researcher Puts Energy Efficiency in the Spotlight

 

In the month since the release of the University of Texas Energy Poll on April 30, energy efficiency has moved to the forefront of the conversation about the future of energy policy in the U.S.

Sheril Kirshenbaum, the poll’s director, has appeared at several events to discuss trends in the public’s attitudes about energy conservation, including consumers’ opinions on various policy measures, strategies for reducing electricity consumption, and other related issues. On the day of the poll’s release, Kirshenbaum presented some of the survey’s findings at a panel discussion called “American Perspectives on Energy Efficiency,” co-sponsored by UT Austin and OurEnergyPolicy.org. (Read the full transcript here, or see a full video of the event below.)

The UT poll gauged perspectives among the general public, while the OEP’s companion survey focused on energy industry professionals. Among the highlights of Kirshenbaum’s presentation:

“Who is most responsible for driving energy efficiency measures? … Among the American public, 36% — so just over a third — look at the federal government. [That figure is] even higher among energy professionals: nearly half.”

“We're very interested in trust. So where do people go for their information on energy efficiency? And what stood out to us very early was that there's a pretty big difference [in] who trusts the media. So we had about a quarter of Americans, 25%, saying that they trust the media on energy efficiency; whereas, just 7% of energy professionals say that they trust the media.”

“There’s a general lack of understanding on energy issues overall among the public. Energy literacy appears to be low.”

Earlier this month, Kirshenbaum also appeared on the radio show Science Friday for a segment called “Another Climate Report, But Who's Listening?” In it, she and Yale’s Anthony Leiserowitz discuss “how green energy is making friends of environmentalists and climate deniers.” Listen to the segment here.

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Rob Heidrick

Writer, McCombs School of Business

Born and raised in Austin, writer Rob Heidrick has spent several years as a contributor and editor at local magazines and community newspapers. He...