Science

Democrats Use Less Household Electricity Than Republicans

By Sean Kane , Mar 12, 2013 06:29 PM EDT
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Are Democrats more green than Republicans? Their politics certainly point to yes.

But do political ideologies translate to the real world, and are they reflected in home energy use?

As a new study shows, Democrats actually are more energy efficient than their more politically conservative counterparts. Research from two UCLA economists shows that the left-leaning side of America uses less electricity to power their homes than those on the right. The research, led by Dora Costa and Matthew Kahn, studied 280,470 single-family homes, and used voter registration information and residential electricity bills to make their claim.

After accounting for age and size of the houses, electricity prices, climate conditions and household demographics, they found that the liberals used less electricity than conservatives.

“Relative to Republican registered households, Democrats consumer 5.1 percent less electricity, and Green party registered voters consume 15.1 percent less,” the study, published in the journal Economic Letters, states.

The difference becomes even greater in the summer.

“We estimate that during the summer. Democrats consume 6.6 percent less electricity than observationally identical Republicans, while Green Party households consume 19.1 percent less electricity than Republican households,” Costa and Kahn write. “This larger summer differential is likely to be related to air-conditioning demand.”

These results are not skewed by pressure to tow the party line, either, even though voter registration information is public.

“Because electricity consumption is private information that is not observed by neighbors, our results are explained by ideology - not by peer pressure,” say Costa and Kahn.

This could lead to changes in policies encouraging lower energy use since, as this study clearly shows, political beliefs affect how we view and treat energy use, reports the Pacific Standard. As the study states, “voluntary restraint,” caused by political views, “helps to mitigate the challenge of climate change.”

So tell your fiscally conservative dad to mitigate that thing he doesn’t believe in and turn the lights off once in a while.

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