Household energy use: a study investigating viewpoints towards energy efficiency technologies and behaviour

29 Jan 2018

Improving the energy efficiency of our homes presents an excellent opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase thermal comfort. However, a shortfall exists between the full potential and realised adoption of energy efficiency measures, a phenomenon termed the ‘Energy Efficiency Gap’. To better understand the Energy Efficiency Gap, this research identified household viewpoints towards energy, and stated preferences towards energy efficiency technologies and behaviour. The research was carried out through interviews and a Q Study in the cities of Manchester and Cardiff, alongside a questionnaire. The results revealed a range of nuanced viewpoints, which mapped onto three principal household themes: energy use in terms of the environment; energy in relation to money; and apathy towards energy. A key finding was the small number strong correlations between distinct energy viewpoints and specific energy efficiency technologies or behaviours. This result implies that being environmentally aware and actively concerned about energy efficiency does not in itself lead to a stated desire, or even, intention to install energy efficient technologies. The wider implication is that households that hold proactive energy efficiency viewpoints based on environmental concern may still require specifically targeted incentives to encourage the uptake of energy efficiency measures, i.e. their proactive and environmental beliefs are not alone enough to motivate them to improve the energy efficiency of their home.