Predicting Summer Energy Consumption from Homeowners' Attitudes

Seligman, C., Kriss, M., Darley, J. M., Fazio, R. H., Becker, L. J. & Pryor, J. B. (1979). Predicting summer energy consumption from homeowners' attitudes. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 9, 1, 70-90.

Two surveys were conducted to examine the relationship between homeowners' attitudes toward energy use and their actual summer electric consumption. In Survey 1, 56 couples filled out questionnaires concerning their energy attitudes. A factor analysis of their responses revealed four factors: comfort and health concerns, effort to conserve and monetary savings, role of the individual, and legitimacy of the energy crisis. The factors were entered into a multiple regression analysis to predict actual summer electric consumption. The attitudinal factors together significantly accounted for 55% of the variance in summer electric consumption. The comfort and health factor by itself explained 30% of the consumption variance. Survey 2, consisting of 69 couples, was conducted to elaborate the meaning of the factors. The results of the factor analysis of Survey 2 revealed six factors: comfort, health, individual's role, belief in science, legitimacy of the energy crisis, and effort to conserve. An overall regression analysis showed that the factors significantly explained nearly 60% of the summer consumption variance. The comfort factor was again the best predictor of summer electric consumption, accounting for 42% of the variance. It was concluded that attitudes about one's comfort are significantly related to household energy consumption (primarily air conditioning). The implications for energy conservation campaigns were discussed.

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