The energy crisis is considered a major problem by most Americans that is hurting them financially and forcing them to reinvent the way they live their daily lives, according to a new study. The report by Sears Roebuck and Co. and Roper Starch Worldwide Inc., found that nearly all Americans — 98% — are doing something to save energy, both large and small.

The survey found 93% turn off unused lights, 77% are lowering thermostats and 67% are using air conditioners less or not at all. Consumers also are giving up some of their conveniences: 53% admit to taking shorter showers.

The impact isn’t just in the home; the report found that buying habits also are changing. Results show that 70% have purchased energy efficient appliances and 88% say it’s likely they also will purchase an energy efficient appliance the next time they need one. Sears, the leading retailer for Energy Star appliances, said the results underscored the rising demand for high performance appliances that conserve both electricity and water.

Another 76% of Americans who have purchased energy efficient appliances have not taken advantage of rebates offered by the government or utility companies. The leading reason, found in more than half the answers, was that consumers were unaware there were rebates available. Consumers also were unaware that Energy Star is the name given to energy efficient appliances; only 28% were able to recognize the name.

“This study indicates that consumers are willing to change the way they behave in an effort to conserve energy, but shows the majority are not familiar with simple rebates and incentives that can support their efforts,” said Tina Settecase, Sears vice president of Home Appliances.

Also illustrated in the study is how far consumers will go to make personal sacrifices to conserve energy. Of those asked, 56% said they would consider giving up dishwashers altogether, 52% said they would stop watching television and 44% said they would sacrifice their air conditioners. However, only 21% would consider not driving to work and 19% would give up doing weekly laundry.

Aside from personal conservation efforts, consumers are looking to the government to provide more energy relief, with 68% believing that government is not doing enough to solve the energy crisis. They do support the government in alleviating shortages by raising energy efficiency standards, however.

The study was conducted by telephone among a national sample of 1,045 adults 18 and above, collected between May 18 and May 21 using Random Digit Dialing. The sample was weighted by demographic factors including age, sex, geographic region and race to ensure a reliable and accurate representation of the U.S. adult population said Roper. Results have a sampling error of +3 percentage points.

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