Americans’ Actions to Conserve Energy, Reduce Waste, and Limit Global Warming in May 2011

Report Summary


Since June 2010, there has been a decline in a few energy conservation behaviors, but an increase in some consumer activism. For example:

  • 45 percent of Americans report that they often or always set the thermostat to 68 degrees or cooler in the winter, an 11-point drop since 2010.
  • Americans say they are less likely to walk or bike, instead of driving, than in 2010.
  • Americans became slightly more pessimistic that their own, other Americans’, or people in industrialized countries’ actions to save energy would reduce global warming a lot or some.
  • 45 percent of Americans say that they have rewarded companies that are taking steps to reduce global warming, by buying their products; an increase of 12 percent since June 2010.
  • Over the next 12 months, 55 percent of Americans intend to either reward or punish companies for their global warming-related behavior, by either buying or boycotting their products.
  • 18 percent of Americans say they have volunteered or donated money to an organization working to reduce global warming, while 13 percent have posted a comment online in response to a news story or blog about global warming.
  • 10 percent of Americans have written a letter, email, or phoned a government official about global warming. Of these, 77 percent urged officials to take action, while 20 percent urged them not to take action to reduce global warming.

Americans’ Actions to Conserve Energy, Reduce Waste, and Limit Global Warming in May 2011 reports results from a national survey fielded from April 23 to May 12, 2011 with 1,010 adults, using the online research panel of Knowledge Networks. The report includes measures of public energy conservation, consumer activism, and political action, and how these have changed since June 2010, January 2010, and November 2008.