RICHARDSON, Texas, June 18, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- The school year may have drawn to a close, but American homeowners are still looking to move closer to the head of the class when it comes to energy savings, especially with the summer heat approaching and higher electricity bills right around the corner.
The annual Lennox Home Energy Report Card survey found the majority of homeowners are attempting to conserve energy, but many are still looking to receive higher marks. The research commissioned by Lennox Industries, a leading manufacturer of heating and cooling equipment, and conducted by GfK Roper, found that 98 percent of homeowners are trying to conserve energy in some fashion, to either help save money and/or protect the environment. In fact, 39 percent of homeowners said they are willing to walk around in their undergarments rather than spend additional money to cool their home during the summer.
Homeowners give themselves above average marks in energy conservation; half of homeowners (50 percent) gave their household a "B" when grading their household energy efficiency, while less than one third (19 percent) gave themselves a "C."
"Though most people make an effort to be energy efficient year-round, the summer season makes it a more top-of-mind issue, given that electricity bills are on the rise and homeowners are starting to feel it in their pocketbook," said Lennox energy efficiency expert Bobby DiFulgentiz. "The Lennox Home Energy Report Card survey found that homeowners think they are doing a pretty good job at finding ways to eliminate energy eaters and save money in the long run, but there is still more that can be done. A few simple actions can help homeowners increase comfort and cut costs without investing a lot of time and effort."
Studying to be Head of the Class: Steps Homeowners Take to Conserve Energy
Ninety-eight percent of homeowners are taking some kind of action to reduce energy consumption, and more homeowners this year are willing to spend more to save more.
Homeowners shared their efforts on conserving energy at home, which include changing air filters regularly, (84 percent), turning down the temperature on the hot water heater (68 percent), utilizing programmable thermostats (60 percent) and unplugging electronics when not in use (50 percent, up 6 percent from 2013). More homeowners are willing to replace old, inefficient air conditioning units with a more efficient model (59 percent, up 9 percent from 2013) and use solar energy to power appliances (24 percent, up 4 percent from 2013) than last year. Although solar energy installations and newer heating and air conditioning units are investments in the home, homeowners are seeing past the sticker price and realizing the long-term benefits of more significant upgrades and changes.
More people than in past years (39 percent, up 9 percent from 2013) said they would turn off their air conditioning system completely, an action that actually may earn a failing grade.
"While turning off your air conditioning or heating system seems like a good idea in theory, it is really making your unit work overtime," said DiFulgentiz. "This can actually decrease energy efficiency and counteract any potential savings because the system has to work much harder and run longer to cool the home. Installing a 'smart' programmable thermostat – one that allows users to adjust the temperature in a home from anywhere through a website or app, such as the Lennox iComfort Wi-Fi – is a good solution to help balance comfort and efficiency while maximizing savings."
Reading, Writing and Recycling: Homeowners are Looking to Pass Environmental Class with Flying Colors
Although homeowners are "going green," more than half (56 percent) conserve energy to save money, while protecting the environment is the driving force of others (36 percent).
Homeowners ease their guilt about energy usage by recycling and reusing. Nearly all homeowners (98 percent) are participating in eco-friendly activities, such as recycling paper, aluminum or glass (87 percent), reusing water bottles (72 percent), buying local or organic produce (65 percent), planting trees (62 percent), using mass transportation/carpooling (26 percent) or driving a hybrid car (13 percent).
Pop Quiz: What makes homeowners turn up (or down) the heat?
Changes in weather aren't the only reason homeowners are motivated to crank up (or down) the AC. Homeowners are making a conscious decision to adjust the thermostat when performing everyday activities as well.
The Lennox Home Energy Report Survey indicated homeowners are adjusting their temperature when sleeping (66 percent), entertaining (49 percent), exercising (26 percent), cooking (25 percent) and when making love (20 percent). Altering the temperature while doing these activities can ensure homeowners earn an "A" in comfort, even if it means spending a little more on the electric bill.
Geography Lesson of the Day: Energy Saving Techniques Vary by Region
The Lennox Home Energy Report Card survey found the majority of homeowners are more willing to turn off their TV (25 percent) than shut off their air conditioner (17 percent). However, what homeowners would unplug varied by region.In the south, where the heat can be unbearable and a homeowner's air conditioner is vital during the summer, only a few (7 percent) said they would turn off their air conditioner, while more (29 percent) would prefer to turn off their television.
"In certain areas during the summer, specifically the South, a central air conditioning system is imperative to get through the heat of season," said DiFulgentiz. "Saving energy is important, but maintaining a comfortable household can trump almost everything else when homeowners consider what they can and can't live without. And with an efficient cooling system, they can have both."
Tough Subject: The Battle of Cost vs. Comfort
When asked how willing homeowners were to turn the thermostat up to save $50 a month on their utility bill, one in three (32 percent) would be willing to raise their thermostat three to six degrees, while two in 10 would not go any higher than one or two degrees.
"Since comfort is key for many homeowners during the summertime, few are willing to raise the thermostat to save significant cash," says DiFulgentiz. "Luckily, homeowners can save as much as 1 percent for each degree the thermostat is raised if the setback period is eight hours long . Ceiling fans are another great way to keep cool and save during the summer since fans allow homeowners to raise the thermostat by four degrees Fahrenheit with no reduction in comfort."
A Chance to Move to the Head of the Class
"There are many simple actions homeowners can pursue to conserve energy, and whether it's turning down the thermostat, unplugging electronics that are not in use, or replacing air filters, every little bit counts," says DiFulgentiz. "Lennox wants to give everyone the chance to improve their grade for the next Home Energy Report Card and move to the head of the class."
Between June 30 and Aug. 31, Lennox invites homeowners to enter the "Energy Savings Superstar" contest on the Lennox website or Facebook page, by submitting unique and innovative home energy savings tips and photos of how they beat the heat during the summer (photo should NOT depict the energy saving tip). The grand prize winner will receive a new XC25 air conditioner, the most efficient residential cooling system on the market, or up to $10,000 in energy-efficient Lennox heating and air conditioning products, along with other "cool" prizes.
About the Lennox Home Energy Report Card Survey
The results of the Lennox Home Energy Report Card survey are based on a telephone survey that was conducted by GfK Roper on behalf of Lennox Industries among 740 homeowners (ages 18 and over) within the U.S. during May 2014. Entire survey results are available upon request by calling Liane Michnoff at (214) 379-3709.
About Lennox Industries
Lennox Industries is a leading manufacturer of customized home heating, cooling and indoor air quality products that are designed to deliver customized comfort, efficiency and functionality, with the most innovative and reliable features available. Lennox has been honored four times by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy as an ENERGY STAR Manufacturing Partner of the Year for its outstanding contribution to developing and promoting energy-efficient products. For more information about Lennox home comfort products, visit www.Lennox.com, call 1-800-9-LENNOX, or find us on Facebook, Twitter or Google+.
The information provided herein is subject to change without notice. Lennox makes no warranty or guarantee of any kind, express or implied, regarding the information set forth herein, including without limitation any warranty regarding its currency, accuracy or completeness or any warranty of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.
 U.S. Department of Energy http://energy.gov/energysaver/articles/thermostats
SOURCE Lennox Industries