Peole gather around a display of laptops

A new University of Michigan study has revealed that the average American consumer factors personal concern, primarily income, into their attitudes about energy. “Americans are just as concerned about energy’s impact on the environment as they are about its affordability, according to first-year results of the University of Michigan Energy Survey.

Consumers also express much greater sensitivity to higher gasoline prices than they do to higher home energy bills.

Conducted quarterly, the U-M Energy Survey takes an academically rigorous look at consumers’ individual concerns about energy, what it costs their households and their beliefs about its affordability, reliability and environmental impact. The survey is fielded in conjunction with the U-M Surveys of Consumers, the same longstanding survey that generates the widely reported index of consumer sentiment.

“This new survey is unique in how it examines personal concerns about energy as consumers view it in their everyday lives,” said survey director John DeCicco, research professor at the U-M Energy Institute. “This careful approach differs from surveys that prompt consumers for their responses on the often politically driven energy debates of the day.” [UM Energy Institute]

U.S. stocks dropped by the close of business on Wednesday following the Federal Reserve’s announcement that the domestic economy was growing at a solid pace, with an analyst predicting the Fed to increase interest rates later this year. “Concluding their first policy-setting meeting of the year, Fed officials said they would be “patient” on raising rates as they looked past the urgent moves made by other central banks this month to boost their struggling economies.

The dollar strengthened further after the Fed statement, putting renewed pressure on oil, which dipped to its lowest level since early 2009. This pushed energy stocks down further.

While many market participants said they were unsurprised by the Fed comments, Stephen Massocca, Chief Investment Officer of Wedbush Equity Management LLC in San Francisco said the Fed’s language looked slightly stronger in support of a rate hike. “It was more hawkish than people thought. But you are counting grains of sand coming through the hourglass so I don’t think you will see it resonate much longer than what we’ve seen in the last hour or so,” Massocca said.” [Reuters]

Recently released research has concluded that record levels of energy saving will occur during Superbowl XLIX on Sunday. “The research on the Super Bowl’s energy savings was conducted by Outlier, a blog published by Opower, a company that works with utilities to help them better connect with their customers and reduce people’s energy use. Opower studied the 2012 Super Bowl, using data from 145,000 households, and reported that “when the game kicks off, electricity use plummets.”

More specifically, versus a typical Sunday afternoon/evening in the winter, home power usage was 5 percent lower during the Super Bowl, with big consequences for overall energy use.” [Washington Post]