Sample and Mail Survey


The target population for our survey was households in Ramsey and Anoka Counties that met three criteria:

  • represent “upland” hydrologic type (no ponds or wetlands on property)
  • have greater than 0% impervious surface on the property
  • are single-family detached homes

We selected all census blocks in Ramsey and Anoka Counties where more than 50% of land area met these three criteria. With the help of Survey Sampling International, we randomly selected 15,000 homes to receive our survey. We sampled households by selecting more homes in highly populated census blocks. Once we had selected our sample, we mailed the survey with an introductory letter. About two weeks later, we sent a reminder postcard and approximately one month after the initial mailing, we sent a second copy of the survey to any addresses that did not respond to either the first mailing or the postcard reminder. Respondents completed and returned the survey between May and August 2008. We received a total of 3,099 filled out surveys, equivalent to a response rate of 21.33% (Summary of Response Rate.pdf)

Mail Survey

Our Household Choices in Urban Living survey(.pdf)  (Nelson et al. 2008) consisted of 40 questions and took approximately 40 minutes to complete. The survey requested information on:

  • demographics (age, gender, race and ethnicity, education, income, number of household members)
  • household members’ heights, weights, diets and levels of physical activity
  • number and weights of pets
  • food waste disposal and recycling habits
  • air and motor vehicle travel
  • landscape management practices
  • respondent’s attitudes, perceived social norms, and perceived control regarding:
    • motor vehicle travel
    • home-energy efficiency behaviors
    • lawn fertilization
    • dietary meat consumption

As part of the survey, we requested homeowner permission to access energy billing records from electricity and natural gas providers for the period May 2007 – May 2008. We obtained permission from 1,940 households to obtain energy records. This information allowed us to estimate household yearly energy consumption. Of these 1,940 households, 1,517 households also gave us permission to visit their property to make landscape measurements.

Map of Sample Distribution