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Published on June 21st, 2013 | by Jake Richardson

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Conservatives And Liberals Have Same Energy Usage Patterns?

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June 21st, 2013 by
 
Opower is a software company focused on increasing energy efficiency with utility providers, homeowners and businesses. Their technology performs energy and usage pattern analyses and frequently sends reports to their customers so they can understand how to save money on their energy bills. (President Obama visited in their Arlington headquarters in 2010 and called their company a success story in a challenging economy.)

Image Credit: Public Domain

Image Credit: Public Domain

Recently Opower conducted a study of individual energy consumption and personal politics. They gathered data for about 100,000 Midwestern utility customers participating in Opower programs and then identified their political party affiliations. They found that Liberal and Conservative customers both consumed about the same amount of energy per household. The Conservative customers consumed only about 3% more than the Liberals. Some might have expected Conservative consumption to be much higher, but energy usage levels between the two groups were very similar.

Actually, it was the Conservatives who saved slightly more energy than the Liberals, after both groups started receiving their regular Opower energy reports. The Opower analysis also compared similar datasets for their customers in the Northeast and Southeast. The findings were very similar for Liberals and Conservatives in these regions as well.

Further, Opower’s analyses generated an insight that contradicted a study conducted at UCLA in 2011 by 1, UCLA economists Dora Costa and Matt Kahn.
The UCLA researchers had found that conservative homeowners, upon hearing
they were doing well with their energy consumption, would actually increase it. This reversal was called the back-fire effect. However, Opower found that with their customers, receiving energy usage reports caused them to reduce their energy consumption even more. This decrease was found in both Liberal and Conservative customers.

So, while political debates tend to become very charged in Congress, news media and online, it appears that many people with different political perspectives have very similar behavior when it comes to their home energy usage.

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About the Author

Hello, I have been writing online for some time, and enjoy the outdoors. If you like, you can follow me on Google Plus.



  • James Van Damme

    I’m a conservative, and I conserve.

  • Barry

    Hi Jake-

    Nice article. However, your concluding paragraph contains one inaccuracy, namely that “the analysis was of people who signed up for an energy efficiency program.” In fact, the Opower behavioral efficiency programs analyzed for the study are opt-out programs. Tens to hundreds thousands of utility customers are enrolled by default to receive personalized energy efficiency information and advice. More information about the large-scale and opt-out nature of the efficiency program can be found in a recent article on Slate.com about Opower (http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/the_efficient_planet/2013/03/opower_using_smiley_faces_and_peer_pressure_to_save_the_planet.html)

    Best,
    Barry Fischer
    Head Writer, Opower

    • Jake R

      Ok, thanks.

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