However, there are some changes that the survey respondents considered a bridge too far. “More drastic lifestyle changes are where people draw the line and aren’t willing to make a change – namely with their diets,” Smith says. “For example, two in three respondents said they wouldn’t be willing to adopt a vegetarian lifestyle, and even fewer (three in four) wouldn’t be willing to go vegan.” For context, vegetarians don’t eat meat, fish, or chicken. On the other hand, vegans avoid meat, fish, or chicken but also refrain from dairy, eggs, honey, and any materials or products derived from or tested on animals.
Smith believes that lifestyle habits are harder to break, and this is why survey respondents also said they would not use a shower timer, bring a reusable straw to restaurants, or walk or ride a bike to work.
Homeowners are also hesitant to make changes that require larger financial investments if they don’t understand the return on investment. “A heat pump may seem like a big upfront investment, but you can start saving around $1,000 a year on energy costs, meaning you could see a payback period as little as 5 years,” Daigle explains.
For homeowners planning to stay in their home for several years, a heat pump could be worth the upfront cost, especially when it also reduces the carbon footprint.
In response to homeowners in the survey who said they would but currently don’t have solar panels, Daigle says, “Although solar is awesome, installing solar panels is not where you should start.” There’s no point in installing solar if you don’t have a well-insulated building envelope, according to Daigle.
“Focus on the building envelope, get the energy audit so you know where to improve, and then insulate your home and invest in double or triple glazed windows.” Next, he recommends installing a heat pump and programmable thermostats. “Then start thinking about solar,” Daigle says.
Terri Williams is a freelance journalist with bylines at The Economist, USA Today, Yahoo, the Houston Chronicle, and U.S. News & World Report. Connect with her on Twitter or LinkedIn.