Households / consumers

Households / consumers

iStock_000008784559XSmall2.jpgHouseholds consume about one third of energy used by final consumers in the EU, with space heating/cooling and the use of appliances causing the largest consumption share. Household energy consumption is largely driven by the growing number of dwellings, m2 per person and appliances/electronic devices. Average energy consumption per m2 has decreased in almost all countries, but has been largely offset by a trend towards larger dwellings and smaller households. Saving potentials exist in every aspect of household energy consumption.

Households are a very diverse target group with respect to the number of people they comprise, their specific consumption needs and routine consumption behaviours. An additional challenge for energy change projects is to target consumers that are not very open to energy efficiency issues. Typical challenges related to decreasing household energy consumption are:

  • An often low priority of energy issues and a limited knowledge why and how energy should/could be saved
  • Physical and structural constraints e.g. as a household might live in a rented building with a low energy standard. In such a case the household's options to reduce its heat demand is limited.
  • Settled and unconscious routines (e.g. with regard to washing, cleaning, cooking, cooling) leading to large energy consumption
  • Lack of knowledge about how much energy is currently used and related costs
  • Low willingness to invest in energy savings measures with long payback periods

To address these challenges, energy change projects need to:

  • Be clear as to whether they want to address one-shot behaviour that entails the purchase of energy efficient equipment or want to change daily routines and habits. In the latter case energy savings are linked to repetitive efforts that need to become a new routine.
  • Know which of the household members is the predominant purchaser and/or user of e.g. typical household appliances or consumer electronics in order to target the programme appropriately
  • Know the age (range) of the target group: projects do not make an explicit distinction in this regard (yet implicitly address adults).
  • Specify their  the target group. For instance, children may not yet have settled their routines (e.g. in terms of washing clothes) and could thus be a better target group for a project that addresses a special type of energy consuming behaviour than their parents.