To find local opportunities to energy efficiency in households

Panel: Panel 1 Built Environment

Jenny Palm, Linköping University, Department of Thematic Studies, Technology and Social Change, Linköping, Sweden


Household interest in the environment increased in the 1990s, and environmental protection has been cited as a reason for becoming more energy efficient. However, people’s attitudes concerning sustainable development and their stated willingness to behave in environmentally sustainable ways do not always have affect their actual behavior. Good intentions are not always translated into actual everyday practices. How can this be explained? More importantly, how can this be changed so that good intentions are also implemented in people’s routines?

The public policy literature has established the “window of opportunity” concept to discuss how and why ideas must be put into practice at particular times (Kingdon 1984). In relation to planning, Svane (2008) has discussed “situations of opportunity” when sustainable choices can be made. Similarly, I will discuss household energy efficiency in relation to “local opportunities” to act in energy-efficient ways. In what situations do these opportunities occur in households? When is it possible to reach households and help them change their routines and behavior, making them more energy efficient? How can one develop household-directed policy measures that exploit local opportunities for reducing energy use and increasing the implementation of energy-efficiency measures. These general matters will be discussed drawing on material from in-depth interviews with energy consultants and householders in Sweden.


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