friends or associates may be a sensible strategy under some circumstances, such as when more formally prepared information is conflicting and untrustworthy.
Individuals use or conserve energy in ways consistent with their personal ideals or their self-images. For some, central air conditioning may be an important expression of a value of comfortable and gracious living. For others, solar collectors on the roof may express values of self-reliance or environmental preservation.
There is evidence of important variations in energy-related values. When presented with a choice between energy and environmental values, for example, women and younger people usually express greater preference for environmental protection than men and older people (Farhar, Weis, Unseld, and Burns, 1979). This may be significant because environmental concern has an effect on energy-related behavior (Black, 1978; Stern, Black, and Elworth, 1982b, 1983; Verhallen and van Raaij, 1981).5 The age difference with respect to environmental values may be particularly important in the future. If environmental concern among the young is a reflection of the increased importance of environmental issues during their formative years, the data may portend increasing importance of environmental values as an influence on energy consumption.
According to the view of energy users as problem avoiders, people usually take energy use for granted and treat it as no more than a potential source of annoyance or inconvenience. Nothing is done about energy until the furnace breaks down, a power outage or a gasoline shortage occurs, or there is such a sharp rise in the price of energy as to command immediate attention either because of the change itself or because energy becomes a more significant portion of the budget. In this view, attention is a scarce resource. People do not change their energy-use patterns until some threshold of annoyance is passed. At that point, they respond, and that behavioral response continues until some new and pressing problem appears to change behavior again. Behavior typically is haphazard and oriented toward short-term avoidance of inconvenience, perhaps guided by hearsay, rule of thumb, “what worked last time,” or other unsystematic influences.
This view implies that people will not take energy-saving action if this action involves significant inconvenience or disruption to household routines. A paper by Penz (1981) contains a detailed anecdotal account of the process of deciding about home insulation and is convincing on this