Effectively reducing energy demand in the residential sector: A multidisciplinary approach

Panel: 9. Consumption and behaviour

This is a peer-reviewed paper.

Authors:
Marta Lopes, IPC-ESAC, INESC Coimbra, Portugal
Carlos Henggeler Antunes, DEEC-UC, INESC Coimbra, Portugal
Nelson Martins, UA, TEMA, Portugal

Abstract

Energy behaviours are recognised as being of paramount importance to energy efficiency policies aimed at reducing energy demand. Tackling energy behaviours is a complex and challenging task since they: encompass multiple dimensions (e.g., usage, investment, comfort, security, provision of energy resources); are influenced by personal, social, economic, material and technological contexts; are a topic of common interest but uncoordinated action of different energy stakeholders promoting energy efficiency, thus making the design of effective programmes and policies more demanding. This work proposes a multidisciplinary approach to assess the influence of energy behaviours on residential energy consumption to support the design of an energy efficiency programme held in Portugal. Methods and techniques from engineering, social sciences and psychology were combined in a systemic manner to assess the qualitative and quantitative influence of behaviours on energy usage and identify the most relevant factors that should be addressed to effectively reduce residential energy consumption. An experimental setup of 128 households was used as case study. Household’s electricity consumption was monitored using smart meters and web-based surveys, which enabled to assess environmental, material and technological, economic, social and personal variables. System modelling enabled to explore the influence of behaviours in the energy consumption activation chain and integrate the contribution of different variables. Results not only confirmed the key role of energy behaviours, but also enabled to rank variables according to their quantitative impact on energy consumption, thus supporting the need of multidisciplinary approaches to design programs and policies aimed at reducing energy demand. Errata Figure 2 has been revised, and differs from the version in the printed proceedings and on the flash drive.

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