We care about our families, jobs or businesses, our neighborhoods, towns or cities—and ultimately, the planet. All of these people and places are impacted by the choices we make about electricity—how much we use and the energy sources we choose to generate it.
Women get the facts.
Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP) and the Women’s Council on Energy and the Environment (WCEE) commissioned a national women’s research study on women and electricity. It was a representative survey of 801 women 18 years or older nationwide.
Most women can’t imagine a day…
Without flipping on a light, powering up a computer, charging a cell phone or microwaving their food. But we rarely think about where that electricity comes from, how it gets to us or how it affects the world around us.
Women are the energy decision makers and want clean energy.
- Women need to know that producing electricity with nuclear power does not release air pollution and does not cause global warming.
- Women business owners are leaders in energy conservation and among the gender’s strongest supporters of clean energy—including wind, solar and nuclear.
- Women are the gatekeepers to their family’s health, decision-makers on energy, and pro-environmental.
There is a rise of 20% in women-owned businesses.
This is compared with five years ago, as shown in research results just released by the U.S. Census Bureau. And as those numbers grow, so too do women’s concerns for controlling business costs such as electricity.
- 98 % who own businesses have also reduced electricity use at home.
- 75% of women take primary or equal responsibility in paying electric bills.
- 91% of women take dominant or equal responsibility for electricity use at home.
- Yet women also self-report as knowing very little about nuclear energy. 70% said that they know “a little or nothing” about the use of nuclear energy in America, as compared with 58 percent of the total population surveyed.
Women fail on energy knowledge.
When it comes to decisions on electricity and energy policy, women do not have the facts they need.
- Women are unclear about electricity’s effect on the environment and 43 percent say they don’t know what the largest source of electricity is today.
Electricity-generating power plants are the biggest cause of global warming in this country, more than cars and trucks or any other source. However, only seven percent of women are aware of this. So while women believe clean energy is very important, they do not completely understand the connection between electricity and the deterioration of our environment. And the largest energy source producing electricity in the U.S. is coal at nearly 45%; natural gas at approximately 24%; and nuclear at 20%.
- Not surprisingly, women—generally acknowledged as the custodians of their family’s health—are especially concerned about the effects of air pollution on health.
70 percent of those surveyed are very or somewhat worried about its impact on their own health and the health of their children. Only 7 percent of women know that generating electricity is the number one cause of global warming in America—a condition the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently declared a threat to public health and welfare.
Fossil fuel electric power plants are among the largest emitters of harmful pollutants like particulate matter, ozone and other toxins, including mercury, lead and arsenic. Pollutants from these and other sources that create greenhouse gases (GHGs) contribute to increased rates of lung cancer, heart attack, stroke, growing childhood asthma rates and other illnesses. They also lead to increased hospitalization, emergency room visits and tens of thousands of premature deaths in the U.S. each year.
Sources: EIA, EPA
- The majority of women (70 percent) say they are worried about the effects of air pollution on their own and their children’s health, yet more than half of women mistakenly think nuclear energy releases air pollution.
Nuclear energy does not produce or emit any greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, in the production of electricity. While coal and other fossil fuels are burned to produce heat, no fuels are burned in a nuclear plant. In producing electricity with nuclear energy, heat is produced by bombarding atoms with neutrons causing them to split and emit heat in the process. Nuclear is THE ONLY fuel source that is baseload—meaning it is available 24/7/365—as well as clean. Other clean sources include hydro (water) and renewables, such as solar and wind. Nuclear accounts for approximately 70% of the emission-free power sources.
Source: Nuclear Energy Institute
- Women are calling the shots on electricity at home and in their businesses by paying the bills and conserving energy, yet they lack understanding of the way electricity is produced and which sources are clean.
Electricity comes from power plants that use turbines or similar devices to drive an electric generator that converts energy to electricity. Turbines are turned by expanding steam that comes from boiling water. In an electricity plant, different fuels are used to boil water. The fuel sources America uses today are coal, natural gas, oil, nuclear, hydroelectric, other renewables including wind, solar, geothermal, biomass, and other technologies.
Fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas produce airborne gases and particulates which are released into the atmosphere when burned. Coal-fired power plants are a leading cause of smog, acid rain and unhealthy air toxins. They account for a third of U.S. CO2 emissions, the primary global warming gas. Burning oil emits about 75% of the pollutants produced by coal per megawatt hour (MWh) of electricity generated, depending on the grade of oil burned. Natural gas produces about half the CO2 of coal per MWh, and fewer smog-producing nitrous oxides. It can also release methane, a potent greenhouse gas, but emissions of acid rain-causing sulfur dioxide and toxic mercury compounds are negligible.
Renewable energy sources such as hydroelectric, wind, solar and geothermal produce almost no emissions and do not contribute to global warming or the health-related issues discussed previously.
Nuclear energy does not produce or emit any greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide. Generating nuclear power does, however, produce spent fuel that is stored safely onsite at nuclear plants or at designated facilities. Nuclear energy accounted for 70 percent of America’s carbon-free source generation. The other sources are hydro at 23 percent and solar, wind and geothermal combined at 7.5 percent.
Sources: EIA, EPA
Give Me the Graphs
Women strongly support moving to clean energy, and below are the graphs for key findings.
- Leaving a better planet is important to women
- What roles do women play in paying the electric bill and reducing the amount of electricity you use?
- What is most important to you in this country’s future energy policy?
- How worried are you about the impact of air pollution on you and your children’s health?
- How important are these energy sources in addressing our country’s electricity needs?