Are Americans willing to pay more for green energy?

Dawn Furnas//July 27, 2022

Are Americans willing to pay more for green energy?

Dawn Furnas//July 27, 2022

Sure, many Americans say green-energy benefits outweigh the cost, but are they really willing to pay for it? 

Released July 26, the Stevens TechPulse Report: Green Energy Perceptions and Usage found that while more than half of adults surveyed (52%) say the long-term, green-energy benefits outweigh costs, only one-third (36%) are willing to pay more for it. 

“Green energy is at the heart of America’s energy transition,” Philip Odonkor, an assistant professor in the School of Systems and Enterprises at Stevens Institute of Technology, said in a statement. “This survey highlights the tremendous progress made in sparking public interest, but also exposes the bigger challenge that lies ahead — converting that momentum into tangible action.”   

Are you a believer?

The study found that responses aligned with one of four categories when asked if a respondent is very likely to very unlikely to seek out green-energy technologies for personal use: 

  • Evangelists (26%): Very likely
    (Skew male, younger, most likely to be urban, most educated) 
  • Promoters (30%): Somewhat likely
    (Skew female, urban/suburban, college educated) 
  • Passives (27%): Neutral
    (Skew female, slightly older, suburban/rural, less educated)  
  • Detractors (10%): Unlikely
    (Skew male, most likely to be older and rural, least educated) 
  • Don’t know/no opinion (7%) 

In general, Americans say they would be willing to pay 10% more per month for green energy-related consumption, the poll found. Of course, this varied based on whether someone was a believer in green energy vs. a detractor (see chart at left). 

What factors into someone’s decision to purchase a green-energy product such as solar panels? According to the survey, 86% said price was the most important aspect to consider; 82% also agreed that function/performance were important as well as ease of maintenance (83%). 

When it comes time to open their wallets, 63% say price is their primary consideration, and that environmental impact is secondary. 

Additional findings: 

48% of respondents say larger entities, such as governments and businesses, as well as individuals and households are equally responsible for adopting green-energy use in everyday life.  

73% say it’s important for universities and colleges to offer education that prepares students for green careers (“any occupation that is affected by activities such as conserving energy, development alternative energy, reducing pollution, or recycling”).

When it comes to terminology, 48% say they are most familiar with the phrase “renewable energy,” followed by 35% who say “clean energy” and 16% who say “green energy technology.” 

“Green energy has an identity problem,” Odonkor said. “The rich diversity of overlapping terms — from clean energy, to sustainable and renewable energy — reflects and reinforces confusion in public understanding.” 

The national poll, conducted June 11-12, surveyed 2,210 adults online on behalf of Stevens Institute of Technology by Morning Consult to find out Americans’ views on green energy-related issues. Results have a margin of error of +/- 2%.