Think the economy is the only issue on your customer’s mind? New survey results released by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research reveal a surprising top concern from the American public: energy. Seventy-eight percent of respondents to the organization’s survey rate energy issues as extremely or very important to them personally – more than the proportion of respondents who cited gas prices or the federal budget deficit.

And while it may come as little surprise that most respondents list reliable transportation as a top everyday priority, the second most common priority may be more unexpected. Saving money on energy costs is a top priority or high priority for 69 percent of respondents, along with 56 percent who report making their home energy efficient and 54 percent who report reducing the amount of electricity they use. By comparison, luxury items like summer vacations (19 percent) and electronic gadgets (11 percent) hardly compare.

The research,”Energy Issues: How the Public Understands and Acts,” shows an opportunity for you to inform your customers on energy-saving opportunities, because the survey found that the respondents do not know a lot about some major government and private-sector energy-savings programs. Just 33 percent of the survey respondents report knowing a lot or a great deal about Energy Star product labels, for instance, and less than 20 percent report knowing a lot or a great deal about rebates for energy-saving technologies, home renovation tax credits, home energy audits, LEED certification, and other energy programs.

Your customers may be receptive when it comes to learning about the financial benefits of energy-saving technology, since 77 percent of the respondents think that doing more to save energy will personally save them money in the long run. Yet consumers remain wary about the initial cost of products: When respondents were asked what prevents people from saving more energy, the cost of energy-saving products and technologies (67 percent) was most often cited as a major factor.

Construction professionals who are prepared to discuss cost- and energy-saving technologies will gain an advantage in securing business from customers concerned about home energy costs. A comparative study of different heating systems in 20 locations across the United States found that, in new installations, high-efficiency propane furnaces were the most affordable to purchase and install of all the systems. Propane furnaces also operate at energy costs competitive with other systems, making them a better value overall in many cases.

Explore the Comparative Heating Map interactive tool to learn more about how propane systems compare with common alternatives in your area of the country. To learn even more about the comparison, take the free online continuing-education course about this topic, called A Comparative Analysis of Residential Heating Systems, now available at the Propane Training Academy.