Reducing residential sector dependence on fossil fuels: a study of motivating factors
thesisposted on 23.05.2016, 11:28 by Sven Hallin
This research considers the motivating factors behind energy use in the residential sector, which in 2011 accounted for more than 26% of overall energy use in the UK. The study took a mixed method approach and considered case studies in both the UK and Australia, two countries with very different energy regimes. UK case studies were analysed using predictive energy modelling, quantitative assessment of actual energy use and thermal comfort, and qualitative interview and focus group assessment of individual motivation around energy use. The Australian case studies were assessed qualitatively and their attitudes compared to the UK core group. Additional perspectives were gained through interviews with UK landlords, a large environmental group, a senior politician, and two senior policymakers from a large energy company. The investigation assesses the implied importance of the key strands developed from previous research in instigating changes in behaviour amongst occupants. These include psychological, social, financial, educational and regulatory factors. In particular, it looks at the ineffectiveness of the Green Deal on energy behaviour in the residential sector. The research offers a reasoned explanation as to why it is important to record predictive, actual, and intended behaviour with regard to energy use. The study concludes that a variety of incentives are necessary to encourage behaviour change, and that the complexity of occupant behaviour makes it difficult to develop a single policy to encourage more sustainable energy use. There is sometimes a disconnect between intention and behaviour. However, there seems to be a certain commonality among the occupants, in that their behaviour around energy is often other than predicted by conventional economics and more likely to incorporate predictions from behavioural economics. This is recognised by the case study participants in both the UK and Australia, and they largely agree on the beneficial role of government in regulating them and "nudging" them in the right direction with regard to influencing their motivations around energy use. Financial incentives are also a key driver in motivating residents to use energy more sustainably, but they need to be carefully aligned to suit a wide range of individuals. Another issue that became clear in the research is that policy focusing purely on energy efficiency can be ineffective, if the policy goal is to mitigate the effects of climate change. The rebound effect is likely to result in a lower demand for residential energy transferring to increased demand for energy elsewhere in the economy. The study recommends that policy should focus on sustainable energy use, using financial and other mechanisms to discourage the use of fossil fuels.
- Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering