Annual Iowa Residential Energy Poll

Principal Investigator: Ron Padavich
Organization: University of Northern Iowa
Technical Area: Energy Efficiency

Strategic Marketing Services at the University of Northern Iowa’s College of Business Administration (a division of Business and Community Services) will, subject to funding, work in cooperation with the Iowa Energy Center to complete a comprehensive statewide residential consumer energy research project focusing on renewable energy, energy efficiency, conservation, transportation, and alternative energy.

There is no current comprehensive statewide data on Iowan’s awareness, knowledge level, attitudes, opinions, concerns, and behaviors as they relate to energy.

Lack of current data makes it difficult to understand, measure, or develop and implement plans and strategies to address/modify Iowan’s behaviors that would be in the best interests of the state. Additionally, there is no mechanism in place to monitor changes in concerns, attitudes, or behaviors over time.

1. Assess and benchmark Iowan’s level of awareness, knowledge and concern about energy issues as they relate to renewable energy, conservation, efficiency, alternative energy, and transportation.
2. Identify factors, issues, and drivers that will have the greatest impact on consumers’ behavior.
3. Determine Iowans’ concerns about climate change, pollution, economics, national security, etc. and the influence these concerns have on their energy related behaviors.
4. Identify preferred means to obtain information (Internet, brochures, hotlines, seminars, classes, etc) for increasing energy knowledge.
5. Identify trusted sources of information (utilities, state agencies, educational institutions, publications such as Consumer Reports, etc).
6. Provide accurate, up-to-date annual information to policymakers, energy providers, educators, and the general public that can be used to improve lowa’s energy efficiency and alternative energy initiatives.
7. Monitor and measure changes in Iowan’s attitudes, opinions, and behaviors on an annual basis and factors that influence changes.

Due to the number of topics and the potential number of questions per topic, two survey instruments will be developed with a maximum of 40 questions per survey.  In order to collect sufficient data reflective of Iowa’s population distribution of those 20 – 70 years of age, each survey will be mailed to 10,000 residents.  SMS’ experience shows that those between ages of 20 to 45 are the least likely to respond to surveys.  In order to secure sufficient responses from that demographic, an additional 4,000 surveys will be sent to that age group.  A total of 24,000 surveys will be mailed matched to the age distribution of the state with heavier emphasis on those between the ages of 20 to 45.

Survey Instrument Development
SMS will conduct a focus group comprised of representatives from the Iowa Energy Center Advisory Board and Staff, investor owned utilities, municipal utilities, rural electric cooperatives, and the Iowa Utilities Board to gain input into the design of the survey instrument.  In addition, personal interviews will be conducted with other energy leaders identified by the focus group participants.

Each year, a sample of 24,000 Iowa citizens between 20 and 70 years of age will be selected to participate in the survey.  The goal will be to secure a response rate that will yield a 95% plus or minus 5% confidence level.  This will require a minimum of 384 responses for the composite group.  By mailing 24,000 surveys, it is anticipated that significantly more than 384 individuals will participate yielding sufficient numbers that the respondents can be segmented to yield additional information based on income, family size, renters vs. homeowners, rural vs. urban, etc.