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The Effect of Feedback and Focused Advice on Household Energy Consumption

Panel: Panel 4: Human dimensions of energy use and efficiency

Maarit Haakana, VTT Building Technology
Liisa Sillanpää, Work Efficiency Institute, Department of Home Economics
Marjatta Talsi, Finnish District Heating Association


The aim was to monitor the effect of focused advice on householdersƒ behaviour with regard to energy consumption. 105 district-heated single-family houses were divided at random into four groups. The households read and sent in their heat, electricity and water consumption figures during a 21 month period. Feedback on their consumption was sent monthly to three of the groups during 17 months, the fourth acted as a control group. Based on an interview and enquiries about the respondentsƒ habits and their willingness to change, focused advisory materials were prepared and delivered, after 12 months monitoring, to two of the groups, either on video or as literature.

Heating energy consumption decreased by average of 5 %, when the households began to read their meters. After receiving feedback on consumption, households reduced their energy consumption for space heating 3-9 % compared with the same months of the previous year. Electricity consumption also decreased after the feedback, by 17-21 %. After feedback, focused advice had no further influence.

The more new habits were adopted, the more the electricity consumption decreased. The most common energy-saving measures applied were turning off the lights in empty rooms, reducing water consumption relating to personal hygiene, and lowering the room temperature.

Most of Finnish district heating customers have had feedback on their heat consumption since the middle of the 1980s. Reports have been very variable in different energy and district heating companies. The Finnish District Heating Association has improved the feedback reports and developed model reports.


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