Women Are the Energy Decision Makers and Want the U.S. to Move Toward Clean Energy, a New National Survey Shows

But Awareness Gaps Cloud their Understanding of the Connection between Electricity Sources and Clean Air

Women want clean energy
Women need more information on electricity and clean energy
Air pollution’s effect on family health is a major concern
Women business owners lead the way

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

WASHINGTON D.C., June 2009: While the United States Congress has been contemplating a new energy policy, it is American women who are paying the electric bills at home and making the critical decisions on energy use in their homes and businesses, according to the national Women’s Survey on Energy & the Environment, the first in-depth women’s survey on attitudes and awareness about energy.

The nationally representative survey of 801 women 18 years or older, commissioned by Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP) in collaboration with the Women’s Council on Energy and the Environment (WCEE), shows that women want the country to move toward clean energy sources, and more than half (57%) are even willing to pay $30 more per month for it. Yet they often do not completely understand the electricity sources we use today, the impact of electricity on clean air and what is causing global warming.

“Women have a huge stake in our nation’s energy future and can play a vital role in moving our country toward clean sources of electricity, such as wind, solar and nuclear, that do not pollute the air we breathe or contribute to global warming,” said Barbara Kasoff, president of WIPP. “With so much resting on the energy and environment policy decisions we make today, every woman’s voice counts now more than ever.”

The survey also shows that:

  • 77 percent of women take primary or equal responsibility for paying their electricity bills, including 9-in-10 (91 percent) of unmarried women and 7 in 10 (70 percent) of married women.
  • Virtually all women (97 percent) are conserving electricity, and they are doing so through a broad range of steps ? such as lowering thermostats; turning off lights and appliances when not in use; purchasing energy-saving fluorescent light bulbs; keeping their homes cooler in winter; and installing energy-efficient appliances, doors, windows, or insulation.
  • 91 percent of women, including 86 percent of married women, play a dominant or equal role in conserving electricity at home.
When it comes to the United States' energy policy, twice as many women (43 percent) cite moving to clean energy over any other issue (reliability or affordability of electricity) as their most important goal.

Though reliability of the power supply seems to be a problem in many places of the USA and this is something that surprises people who live in countries where the supply appears to be much more reliable. And this from a country that claims to be so advanced.

Women are enthusiastic about solar and wind energy, both clean energy sources: 90 percent and 89 percent, respectively think they should play a very or somewhat important role in our country’s energy future.

Women Need More Information on Electricity and Clean Energy

Women are unclear about electricity’s effect on the environment. Electricity-generating power plants are the biggest cause of global warming in this country, more than cars and trucks or any other source. However, only seven percent of women are aware of this. So while women believe clean energy is very important, they do not completely understand the connection between electricity and the deterioration of our environment.

Thirty-one percent say they don’t know the largest cause of global warming, and 24 percent mistakenly say cars and trucks are the main culprits. Women are also unclear about which sources of electricity cause global warming: 67 percent of women correctly identify coal power plants as a big cause or somewhat of a cause of global warming, but 54 percent think the same thing about nuclear energy; in reality, nuclear energy does not cause global warming at all.

“Most women can’t imagine a day without flipping on a light, powering up a computer or charging a cell phone, but they rarely think about where that electricity comes from or how it affects the world around us,” said Sharla Artz, president of WCEE. “Women have a tremendous opportunity to help solve this defining issue of our time, and it all starts with learning more about how electricity is produced and which sources are clean.”

Air Pollution’s Effect on Family Health Is a Major Concern

Not surprisingly, women, generally acknowledged as the custodians of their family’s health, are especially concerned about the effects of air pollution on health: 70 percent of those surveyed are very or somewhat worried about its impact on their own health and the health of their children.

And women with and without children say leaving a better planet for the next generation is their most important goal when it comes to electricity—more than those who cite reliability and cost.

Yet they misplace blame for air pollution on energy sources that do not emit harmful pollutants that damage the environment and endanger human health. For example, while most know burning coal causes air pollution, 54 percent of those surveyed mistakenly believe nuclear energy releases a lot or some air pollution.

"Women have the right to expect the air we breathe to be clean. With respiratory health problems on the rise, women are looking for solutions that include clean energy sources to make our planet healthier for all of us,” says Clare Piercy, executive director of WCEE.

Women Business Owners Lead the Way

Women business owners are at the forefront of leading America toward energy conservation and clean energy. In fact, a majority cite moving to clean energy as our most important energy policy goal, according to a similar survey of 455 women business owners also commissioned by WIPP and WCEE.

On both of these measures, women business owners are even more committed to clean energy than the general female population. They strongly believe wind and solar energy should have an important role in addressing our country’s electricity needs. They are also more aware of nuclear energy’s clean-air benefits - that it is not a cause of global warming and releases no air pollution - than women as a whole, and they are more supportive of nuclear energy than the general female population. Other significant findings are:
  • 77 percent of female business owners have cut their electricity use at their businesses in the past few years, and 98 percent have done the same at home.
  • Nearly 8 in 10 (79 percent) have made their businesses more environmentally friendly.
  • 87 percent favor federal tax incentives – including 52 percent who strongly favor them – to encourage companies to become more energy-efficient and use more clean energy.
  • Survey Methodology
Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, the international public-opinion research and consulting firm, conducted a national telephone survey of 801 women 18 years or older, and a national web survey of 455 women business owners. The surveys were conducted between May 4 and 18, 2009. The margin of error for women 18 years and older is plus or minus 3.5 percent. The survey was commissioned by Women Impacting Public Policy in collaboration with Women’s Council on Energy and the Environment, and was underwritten through an educational grant by Entergy Nuclear.

Resources for Women

Women can learn more about how electricity impacts their world and their planet by downloading a brochure, Women and Clean Power: Electricity Matters, at www.wipp.org.

Women Impacting Public Policy is a non-profit national bipartisan group with more than half-a-million members. WIPP is the collective voice in Washington, DC, for 48 national women and small business organizations. WIPP advocates for and on behalf of women and minorities in business in the legislative processes of our nation, creating economic opportunities and building bridges and alliances to other small business organizations. WIPP’s policy agenda, the Economic Blueprint, the Women Business Owners’ Platform for Growth, is found on the WIPP Web site. Visit www.wipp.org.

The Women’s Council on Energy and the Environment is a non-partisan policy-neutral organization that focuses on women, energy, and the environment. WCEE's mission is to provide consistently high-quality, non-partisan and policy-neutral forums for dialogue on cutting-edge energy and environmental issues, and to foster the personal and professional growth and leadership abilities of its members. Visit www.wcee.org.

© 2009