Energy conservation has emerged as a prominent issue within American society. Scientific research has found that an increase in electricity usage has caused the U.S. carbon footprint to expand in size. Just recently, the Senate Energy Chairman Jeff Bingaman began drafting legislation to cap greenhouse gas emissions from energy power plants (Bravener, 2010). The attention placed on the harmful effects of energy consumption can be attributed to environmental groups and government organizations such as the Environmental Protection Agency. These organizations have found that the industrial, transportation, commercial and residential sectors have created many of the greenhouse gas effects (Energy Information Administration, 2009). According to Figure 1, the residential sector has surpassed the commercial, industrial and transportation sector in energy consumption and thus greenhouse gas emissions. Many policy makers, environmental organizations and business are beginning to request information regarding how energy and environmental conservation can become a way of life. This paper will explore such a question by examining age cohorts and their energy consumption patterns.
Researchers from various disciplines have begun to link the need for socioeconomic and psychology exploration in the quest for environmental conservation. Van den Bergh's (2008) critique of the economic and psychological literature suggests formal testing by researchers to examine the influence of socioeconomic and psychological determinants on residential energy consumption. Fairs, Cook & Neame (2007) concluded that environmentally conscience individuals operate in a social context with the influence of culture, social and emotional factors coupled with learning and awareness. Kotchen & Moore (2006) adaptation of the psychology literature discovered that a conservationist will voluntarily constrain harmful environmental consumption habits and are also willing to pay a premium to consume environmentally friendly products (Kotchen & Moore 2006). Diamantopoulos, Schlegelmilch, Sinkovics, & Bohlen (2003) performed a synthesis of the literature and concluded that socio demographic variables help to profile one's environmental knowledge and attitudes with limitations on behavioral aspects. Arkesteijn & Oerlemans (2005) found that early adaptors of the green electricity program are persons who are knowledgeable about sustainable energy and who take a positive supportive view of the environment.
Age cohorts, defined by Noble & Schewe (2003), are a proposed group of individuals who are born during the same time period and who experienced similar external events during their formative or coming-of-age years. Within in Noble & Schewe (2003) study, they perform a survey based upon gathering the individuals' age and their values based upon a 9 point Likert scale. Their results explained that individuals born within the age of the Great Depression were highly impacted through this historical event, these individuals were more likely place a high level of importance on social obligation, personal and financial safety. Schewe & Meredith (2004) also found that historical events experienced during one's coming-of-age years create values that remain relatively unchanged throughout one's life. This paper will seek to first discover if there is a relationship between age cohorts and their energy consumption habits. Once the relationship has been established, the authors will offer antidotal hypotheses for such findings.
The authors will utilize variables from the 2007 National American Household Survey database as proxies to identify the variation in demography such as age and gender on residential energy usage. The authors first perform a bivariate association, which is similar to analysis developed by Van Liere & Dunlap (1980) and Diamantopoulos , Schlegelmilch, Sinkovics, & Bohlen (2003). …