ACES conducts energy survey

Published 10:07 am Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Energy is on the minds of everyone this winter.

A lengthy bitter cold-spell, heavy snow and winds have sent energy bills soaring.

A local organization has surveyed Austinites to assess their true interest in reducing energy consumption.

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The Austin Coalition for Environmental Sustainability group conducted a voluntary survey during the 2008 Mower County Fair.

ACES was formed last year.  Its purpose is to promote wise use of energy resources.

Members include groups/organizations such as the Izaak Walton League, Austin Audubon Society and the J.C. Hormel Nature Center, as well as individuals.

ACES had a booth in the Fish and Wildlife Building at the 2008 Mower County Fair.

In addition to the survey, visitors were also offered free cloth shopping bags donated by Hy-Vee (almost 300 were distributed) and a variety of handouts.

The survey had 253 responders and included the following five questions:

1. Do you currently use reusable shopping bags?

Slightly more responders (131) said they used the bags than those who didn’t (117).

2. Would you be interested in a free energy audit for you home and/or business if it were available?

A minority of responders were interested in the audit.

3. Do you currently recycle any items from the following list?

By far, the majority of responders indicated they recycled the cardboard, plastic and glass/cans picked up by the city.  Only 87 responders said they recycled electronics, and just 79 of those surveyed said they recycled appliances.

4. What energy conservation measures do you use?

This question was followed by a variety of possible methods.  From the items on the list, everyone responded they used ceiling fans, but compact fluorescent bulbs (213) and programmable thermostats (135) were also widely used by responders.

A sizable minority of responders indicated that they own “Energy Star” appliances.

5. Would you like to learn more about any of the following?

From the list of 12 topics, responders indicated the most interest in solar panels (49), small wind electricity generating turbines (36), rain barrels (30), and rain gardens (27).

“In summary, this survey indicated that many folks are aware of the necessity for environmental sustainability and are willing to do their part in achieving it if they are given the education and opportunity,” said ACES communication director Terry Dorsey. “With our new national administration supporting conservation and environmental sustainability, the future of a ‘greener’ America looks more possible.”