New Survey Finds Most Americans Incorrectly Believe Cars and Trucks Consume More Energy Than Homes: Results Suggest Many Americans May Be Unaware of Their Home's Energy Savings and Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction Potential

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With October being Energy Awareness Month, Johns Manville (JM), a leading manufacturer of an extensive line of energy efficient building products, today released results of a survey showing that a majority of Americans incorrectly believe that the road transportation sector is the single largest consumer of energy in the U.S., rather than the residential housing sector.

A simple way for a homeowner to check if the home is properly insulated is to measure the amount of insulation in the attic

    JM's Energy Awareness Month Survey, conducted by Opinion Research Corporation, surveyed 1,032 Americans in mid-September 2007 to gauge their awareness of energy use in the U.S. The survey, which had a sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points, found that the majority of Americans are not aware of how our nation's energy is consumed and where the greatest opportunities are to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

Survey respondents were asked a series of questions about energy use and greenhouse gas emissions related to the top six energy-consuming sectors/industries: road transportation, air transportation, chemical/petrochemical industry, iron and steel industry, commercial buildings and residential buildings.

The largest number of respondents, 35 percent, said road transportation ranked as the single largest consumer of energy in the U.S. By comparison, only 12 percent of respondents said that residential buildings ranked as the single largest U.S. energy consumer. The largest number of respondents, 44 percent, also said that road transportation ranked as the largest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions, while only 4 percent said it was residential buildings and 6 percent said commercial buildings.

In reality, the U.S. residential sector ranks as the single largest energy consumer in the world, and homes worldwide account for 25 percent of total energy use, according to a May 2007 report from the McKinsey Global Institute titled "Curbing Global Energy Demand Growth: The Energy Productivity Opportunity." In addition, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, residential and commercial buildings are responsible for almost half, 48 percent, of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S.

"Many homeowners don't realize that a typical house releases almost twice as much carbon dioxide annually as a typical car," said Kateri Callahan, president of the Alliance to Save Energy. "But when you consider the energy needed for heating, cooling, lighting and appliances, it becomes apparent that today's homes can be real 'energy guzzlers.' The good news is that there are ample opportunities for homeowners to assess their homes' energy use. Energy-efficiency upgrades not only reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, but also lower home energy bills."

According to McKinsey's report, the most substantial way to reduce global energy use and greenhouse gas emissions is to make homes more energy efficient. The report notes that by implementing available technologies such as high-insulation building shells, compact fluorescent lighting, and high-efficiency water heating, the sector's energy demand growth could be sliced by more than half, from 2.4 percent a year to only 1 percent a year.

"It's important to raise the public's awareness of how our energy supplies are being consumed so that we can make the right decisions and focus our efforts on the most productive ways to reduce energy consumption," said Tim Carey, director of environmental stewardship for Johns Manville. "As the public becomes more aware of the fact that their homes are the largest source of energy consumption, they can directly help the situation and lower their energy bills by making simple energy-efficiency upgrades to their homes, such as adding attic insulation."

One reason why the U.S. residential sector is the single largest energy consumer in the world is because 46 million, or 65 percent of U.S. homes, are currently under-insulated, according to the Harvard University School of Public Health. In addition, the U.S. Department of Energy estimates that 40 percent of all air leaks in the average home are in the attic.

"Like cars, our homes need to be fueled," added Carey. "But right now, the way we fuel our homes is the equivalent of not closing the gas cap when we leave the gas station and allowing fuel to escape from the gas tank when we hit the road. We need to start thinking about energy efficiency as a form of fuel by building smarter and making existing homes more energy efficient. This is good for Americans' bank accounts as well."

The JM Energy Awareness Month Survey also found that 84 percent of respondents said they have never had an energy audit completed on their homes. An energy audit is an important first step for homeowners to assess how much energy their homes consume and to evaluate what measures they can take to make them more energy efficient.

"The fact that the large majority of the public has never had a home energy audit is a main reason why so many homes in the U.S. are under-insulated and not as energy efficient as they could be," said Callahan. "Adding attic insulation is one of the easiest and most cost effective ways for homeowners to help extend our nation's energy supplies and improve the environment while realizing an immediate payback in lower heating and cooling costs. As an added incentive, homeowners also can get a federal income tax credit of up to $500 for adding insulation through the end of this year." (http://www.ase.org/taxcredits)

"A simple way for a homeowner to check if the home is properly insulated is to measure the amount of insulation in the attic," according to Dean Johnson, host of the PBS "Hometime" television show and recognized home improvement expert. "By using a ruler, homeowners can check the depth of their attic insulation. Many climates may need up to 19 inches of attic insulation to ensure maximum energy efficiency. As homeowners tighten up their homes and add insulation to improve energy efficiency, they should consider using products that are free of formaldehyde and other volatile organic compounds. This will avoid trapping formaldehyde in the air of more tightly-sealed homes, which can lead to poor indoor air quality."

About Johns Manville

Johns Manville, a Berkshire Hathaway company, is a leading manufacturer and marketer of premium-quality building and specialty products. In business since 1858, the Denver-based company has sales in excess of $2 billion and holds leadership positions in all of the key markets that it serves. Johns Manville employs about 8,500 people and operates 43 manufacturing facilities in North America, Europe and China. Additional information can be found at http://www.jmhomeowner.com.

About the Survey

The 2007 Energy Awareness Month Survey was conducted by Opinion Research Corporation for building products manufacturer Johns Manville. The survey was conducted via telephone September 14-17 and results are based on a national probability sample of 1,032 adults comprising 521 men and 511 women 18 years of age and older, living in private households in the continental United States. Using Opinion Research's CARAVAN methodology, the data was collected from a national probability telephone sample, a form of random-digit-dialing (RDD). The survey had a sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.

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