Addressing the behavior of individuals to provide abetter understanding of the decisions of energy consumers, of the determinants of energy consumption, and of options for reducing energy demand.
It is widely accepted that a major change in individual energy behavior, leading to a significant reduction of energy demand, will be necessary to achieve the envisioned energy transition. In any market economy, a thorough understanding of consumer preferences and behavior is a crucial point for energy strategies, especially in a direct democracy like Switzerland, where consumers also act as voters. Residential energy consumption in Switzerland is a key driver of overall energy demand, with private households accounting for 28% of final energy consumption (BFE, 2013). This does not even include energy used in transportation, which accounts for another 35% of Swiss energy consumption (BFE, 2013). An enhanced understanding of consumer behavior is key to unlocking a transition towards achieving the objectives of Switzerland’s Energy Strategy 2050. Moreover, it has become acknowledged that efficiency measures alone will not be sufficient to reach such a goal. Sufficiency is demanded additionally to achieve a substantial change of individual energy consumption. However, international and national research on both, on sufficiency and on the link between sufficiency and efficiency has so far been underrepresented. This work package strives to boost this research field by following new interdisciplinary pathways.
The term “individual energy behavior” denotes a variety of actions such as investments in household equipment or in heating systems, clothing and eating habits (embodied energy), handling of different supply technologies, mobility, and voting behavior. This WP will focus on individual energy consumption patterns and the potential to change them during the first SCCER phase. Extensions are planned for the second phase. In the following “individual energy consumption patterns” is meant to encompass household related a) investments in (energy) equipment devices together with their related use (e.g., ICT, fridge, heating, cars etc.), b) use of installed equipment in rented apartments (e.g., hot water), c) potential usage of energy related services (e.g., smart metering, transportation services) and d) use of products and services including a high portion of embodied energy (e.g., food, clothes). As individuals and households do not demand (in most cases) energy directly but ask for energy services, analyzing ‘potential changes in consumption patterns’ includes analyzing “potential changes in demand” and “potential alternatives in delivering the services”. Whereas insights on the former provide information on the policy level, results regarding the latter also contribute to informing the industry.