The behaviour of us as consumers of energy has become ever more intriguing to policy makers and energy utilities. Households in the UK are responsible for around 28% of the UK's CO2 emissions, influenced by the quality of our housing stock as well as our increasingly energy consuming lifestyles.For the majority of the time, energy use in the home is invisible and our energy consuming behaviours are based on routine and habit. We turn the lights on, leave televisions on standby and boil our kettles without having to think about how these actions are carried out, where the energy comes from or what the environmental consequences are. These behaviours are both complicated and difficult to change: partly because they are shaped by the characteristics of the building and the energy-using appliances, but more importantly because they are influenced by a range of internal and external factors, such as our beliefs, values and attitudes, other people's behaviours, the cultural settings we live in, and various economic incentives and constraints.
However, there is evidence that despite the complexity of energy consuming behaviours, these behaviours can be influenced and changed. Various interventions, including measures such as feedback via a bill or a display unit on the amount of energy a household uses, have been tested in previous research and have suggested energy savings of up to 15% depending on the intervention measure. However, further research is required to establish which intervention measure or a combination of measures are the most effective in resulting to actual behavioural change and long-term energy savings.
For more information, contact Mari Martiskainen.
Project outputs: Workshop held at SPRU with the funding utility, 28th March 2007.