The vast majority of Vermonters want to use less fossil fuel for their energy needs, but the cost to reduce one's carbon footprint is a challenge, according to a survey the Energy Action Network released last week.

The Energy Action Network is launching an initiative designed to promote ways residents can turn strongly held beliefs about climate change into action, the group says.

Andrea Colnes, executive director of the network, said her organization will create a website designed to show Vermonters how shifting from fossil fuels and to cleaner energy is doable and affordable.

This includes home retrofits that could save more heat, installing efficient electric heat pumps and making the switch to electric vehicles, among other solutions, she said.

Energy Action Network hired the Castleton Polling Institute to survey more than 600 residents across the state last month. The results include:

  • 90 percent of Vermonters agree that changing the state's energy system is important;
  • 74 percent agree that this change should occur as quickly as possible;
  • 79 percent agree that this change is possible through energy efficiency and switching to renewable sources of energy;
  • 84 percent agree that changing Vermont's energy system will make a difference;
  • 58 percent say the biggest challenge to switching to renewable energy sources and energy efficiency is cost.

The Vermont Public Interest Research Group earlier this month released another survey showing Vermont residents overwhelmingly support the state's renewable energy goals.

"If you're a candidate running for office in Vermont, you would do well to keep in mind the strong opinions of voters here about the problem of climate change and the benefits of clean energy," VPIRG Executive Director Paul Burns said this month after the poll was released.

VPIRG contracted with the California-based public opinion firm Fairbank, Maslin, Maulin, Metz & Associates to conduct its April survey of 600 Vermont voters. The highlights include:

  • 71 percent support building wind turbines along the state's ridgelines;
  • 86 percent support the state's goal to source 90 percent of its energy from renewables by 2050, and 83 percent support taking action now on this goal;
  • 72 percent view candidates more favorably who view advancing energy efficiency, clean energy and action on climate change as central to their work in the Legislature;
  • 93 percent of Democrats view more favorably candidates who support renewable energy and energy efficiency, as compared to 69 percent of independents and 49 percent of Republicans.