Rebound and spillover effects: occupant behaviour after\ud energy efficiency improvements are carried out

Doctoral thesis English OPEN
Suffolk, Christine (2016)
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This empirical research explores secondary behavioural effects after energy efficiency improvements are carried out in residential properties. Three field studies were carried out to provide an original contribution to knowledge about rebound effects, behavioural spillover and the psychological constructs that may contribute to changes in behaviour after energy efficiency improvements are carried out in real-life settings.\ud In the first two studies, residents in economically deprived communities in Wales who had energy efficiency improvements under the Arbed scheme were invited to\ud complete a self-reported questionnaire about their behaviours, attitudes, subjective norms, perceived behavioural control and self-identity. The Arbed scheme was set up by the Welsh Government to provide home energy efficiency and renewable microgeneration measures for low-income and fuel-poor households in Wales. Residents\ud from nearby communities served as a control for these studies. The first study was cross-sectional and explored whether there were any associations between energy\ud efficiency measures and other energy-related measures. The second study was a longitudinal study and the occupants filled in the questionnaire both before and after the\ud energy efficiency measures were installed. This study particularly explored whether the energy efficiency measures would lead to changes in other energy related behaviours.\ud The results from both studies found no evidence of changes in other energy-related behaviours, suggesting positive spillover did not occur, but changes were found in some\ud of the measured psychological constructs. Self-reported environmental identity increased for the energy efficiency improvement group after the measures were installed.\ud For the third study, utility meter readings and indoor air temperatures were taken for a sub-sample of the occupants both before and after the energy efficiency measures\ud were installed. There were few differences found between the two groups for indoor air temperature, but the energy efficiency improvement group was found to use less energy\ud after the measures were installed. The actual energy saved for the energy efficiency improvement group was however lower than predicted and a rebound effect of 54% was\ud calculated.\ud This research is one of the few field studies in this area. The findings from the three studies suggest that after energy efficiency improvements are installed, the occupants may take back some, if not a considerable amount, of the potential energy savings to improve their thermal comfort. The findings also provide an indication that psychological mechanisms may change after energy efficiency measures are installed.
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