A decade and a half ago, it seemed like the pursuit for energy efficiency and sustainability was largely a democratic talking point. Today, conservatives have coalesced around the idea as well. And with more support for renewable energy comes the hope that America can eventually become a leading country in this space.
Bi-Partisan Support for Renewable Energy Higher Than Ever
It’s not every often you find something that conservatives and liberals can agree on these days. So when we do discover an issue, it’s important to celebrate.
Regardless of age, political affiliation, or gender, U.S. voters are overwhelmingly in favor of renewable energy.
“I think anyone who is paying attention to our current political climate might be interested to see there is an area of common ground,” says Christine Horne, professor of sociology at Washington State University and lead researcher of a study that examines political viewpoints surrounding renewable energy. “Marketing renewable energy as a way to be more self-sufficient is a message that would appeal to both liberals and conservatives.”
Horne references data that shows 83 percent of conservative Republicans and 97 percent of liberal Democrats favor solar farms. In fact, conservative states are just as likely to support energy efficiency policies as liberal states, though the motivations may not be the same.
For Democrats, the driving force behind renewable energy is a concern for the environment. They’re concerned about pollution, waste, global warming, and other problematic trends.
For Republicans, the primary motivating factor is financial. Conservative voters see renewable energy and energy efficient improvements as ways to lower costs and enjoy tax-related benefits. For some conservatives, there’s also an element of renewable energy that ties in with stronger national security.
“Conservatives as a whole find national security to be a critical topic, yet do not factor in how renewable energy plays a role in protecting our country,” says Lt. General Richard Zilmer, USMC (Ret.). “Companies are focused on renewable energy sources like solar and wind energy — for the simple reason that renewable energy is not only better for the environment than traditional sources, but is better for the security of our nation, and increasingly a better choice economically.”
Energy Efficient Upgrades for the Home
While it’s safe to say attitudes are changing in regards to renewable energy and sustainability, many voters are unsure of what this looks like on a micro level. In other words, how do you prioritize energy efficiency inside the home? Well, let’s take a look…
- Consider alternative heat sources. There’s nothing wrong with a traditional HVAC system, but you have other options when it comes to heating. Rather than running a furnace on full blast during the cold months, you could try a simpler solution like a pellet burning wood stove.
- Ditch the clunky appliances. You might think you’re being smart by hanging on to those old appliances that are still working, but you’re actually spending way more than you think to keep them operational. Yes, it might cost you $1200 to replace your washer and dryer set with a more efficient model, but it could also save you $150 or $200 per year in energy costs. That means you make your money back in just five or six years.
- Seal and insulate everything. According to Energy.gov, you can lose as much as 60 percent of your heated air before it reaches the register (if you have ducts that aren’t well insulated). Make sure you’re sealing every component of your HVAC system – as well as windows, doors, pipes, and any other key home systems.
- Go with energy efficient lighting. By switching from outdated light bulbs to new energy efficient alternatives, you can reduce lighting energy by 50 to 75 percent.
Not exactly sure where to begin? A professional energy audit is inexpensive, quick, and highly effective. It’ll tell you where you’re wasting energy and how you can improve.
Ensuring a Healthier Tomorrow
Conservatives haven’t always been the leading voice on renewable energy, eco-friendly energy advances, and sustainability, but as the financial benefits have become more apparent, many are joining forces with liberal Democrats. And in a day and age where there’s significant vitriol between these two halves of American society, any agreement is a good thing.