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Conserving Alger County's Energy and Natural Resources

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Date: December 8, 2010
Contact: Gregg Bruff, 906-387-2607, ext. 208
Contact: Carl Lindquist, Executive Director, Superior Watershed Partnership, 906-228-6095, ext. 14

News release from the Superior Watershed Partnership


Alger residents conserving energy, want to recycle more
New survey released on county household energy use & global warming opinion

Alger County, MI - According to a new survey, the majority of Alger County household residents frequently use as little water as possible (66%) and wash their laundry in cold water (56%). Even larger numbers say that they already turn off lights when not needed (98%), and they would recycle more if there were better facilities (84%).

Yet purchasing more energy efficient household appliances - such as water heaters and home heating systems - is a bigger hurdle for residents, either because of the expense, or perceptions that there is no reason to replace their old one.

The Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star program recommends considering replacing heating and cooling systems if they are older than 10 years. Even so, 40% of the Alger County residents who said they did not need a new home heating system had models that were 16 years old or more. This indicates that residents may not be considering efficiency - and potential savings on their utility bills - when making replacement decisions.

Affordability was also one of the most frequently cited barriers by Alger County residents in buying more efficient home and water heating systems, and sealing against drafts. When asked whether financial assistance - such as in the form of rebates - would increase the likelihood that they would make these energy-saving home improvements, 73% of county residents said it would.

These results are from a survey of 765 residents in Alger County conducted this summer by the Superior Watershed Partnership and Land Trust and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The non-profit organization and national lakeshore will use the study in constructing local energy efficiency initiatives and environmental outreach programs.

"Our goal is to develop a program that provides technical and financial assistance to help residents overcome some of these barriers so they can conserve energy and save money," said Carl Lindquist, Executive Director of the Superior Watershed Partnership.
The survey report recommended installing programmable thermostats, replacing incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescents (or LEDs if feasible), and caulking and weather-stripping homes. These three actions are all low cost, but together could produce household energy savings of up to 10%.

The survey also addressed global warming, which Gregg Bruff, Chief of Heritage Education at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, acknowledged is a controversial topic. "We wanted to hear from residents whether they thought our climate is changing, and if so, what effects it might have on this area," Bruff said.

Residents said they the most likely local consequences from global warming were lower lake levels (57%), droughts (52%), and declines in populations of current plants and animals (51%). More than one-quarter of Alger County residents said that they have already personally experienced the effects of global warming. Of those who said they had experienced it, two-thirds said it had been in Alger County and 23% said it had been elsewhere in the Upper Peninsula.

Using measures of global warming concern devised by the Center for Climate Change Communication and the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication, 16% of Alger residents were "Alarmed" about global warming's impacts and 30% were "Concerned" - twice the percentage of those who were "Dismissive" about the issue (11%) and "Doubtful" (12%).

The mail survey was conducted from June 10 to September 8, 2010, with a sample of 765 adult residents of randomly selected Alger County households. The sample has a margin of error of +/- 3.4% within a 95% probability. The full report can be read at:

http://www.climatechangecommunication.org/images/files/Alger_County_Survey_2010(2).pdf

Did You Know?

Dune grass thrives on the Grand Sable Dunes near Grand Marais, Michigan, in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

On October 6, 1972, ceremonies in Munising marked the establishment of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, America's first national lakeshore. To symbolically link the park's two gateway communities of Munising and Grand Marais, water was poured from two glass containers into a third. More...