Consumers’ intensity of concern regarding energy impacts

Our samples to date suggest that consumers’ degree of concern about the impact of energy on the environment equals their concern about the affordability of energy, while there is much less concern about the reliability of energy. Combined data from a year’s worth of sample points (October 2013, January 2014, April 2014, and July 2014) show that the share of respondents that worry a great deal or a fair amount about this aspect of energy averages 59% whereas those that worry a great deal or a fair amount about the affordability of energy averages 55%. Trailing both of these (significantly) is concern about reliability at 32%. The equality of concern about environmental impact and affordability could be an artifact of how the data are collapsed. Do consumers really worry about environmental impact as much as they worry about affordability? This note addresses this issue.

Respondents were asked a series of questions about their degree of concern about three energy-related issues:

“How much do you personally worry about the reliability of energy? Would you say a great deal, a fair amount, only a little, or not at all?

How much do you personally worry about the affordability of energy? Would you say a great deal, a fair amount, only a little, or not at all?

How much do you personally worry about the environmental impact of energy? Would you say a great deal, a fair amount, only a little, or not at all?”

These questions were posed near the end of the interview so that the respondents had already become familiar with the aspects of energy being addressed. To measure these attitudes, we used a balanced four-level scale.