Nearly three-quarters of American homeowners are concerned that home energy costs will strain their finances over the next year, according to a survey conducted by Impulse Research for MXenergy Inc. The research also found that only 30% have come to understand how home energy prices are set, and 90% feel they have limited or no control over energy costs.

The themes of confusion and lack of control were common threads in the survey findings. For example, less than one-quarter of respondents said they completely understood the different sections of their energy bill. And, despite being mandated in several states and local utility districts, energy deregulation is neither understood nor even heard of by 60% of homeowners surveyed.

The survey was sponsored by retail gas supplier MXenergy.

"This study shows that consumers sense a real loss of control when it comes to managing their energy bills," said MXenergy CEO Jeffrey Mayer. "The extreme volatility we've seen in energy prices in recent years is likely to continue, so it's important that consumers understand the steps they can take to keep costs under control."

Ninety percent of respondents reported making lifestyle changes in the past year due to higher energy prices, such as using florescent light bulbs and turning off electronic equipment when leaving a room. More than one-third reported that they have cut back spending in other areas to offset high home energy costs.

The survey was conducted online in March 2007 with a random sample of 1,000 U.S. homeowners who are members of the CyberPulse Advisory Panel. The Advisory Panel was selected to match U.S. population demographics.

MXenergy serves about 500,000 customers in 30 U.S. utility territories.

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