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Demand-side management (Electric utilities), Climatic changes, City planning -- Environmental aspects


A variety of approaches have been proposed to explaining individual household energy consumption, its variation, and its potential reduction. Some focus on technology, some on costs, and some on a combination of behaviors, attitudes, intentions, and norms. All try to make sense of a problem that, from a modeling perspective, involves hundreds of potentially important factors, yet is supported by highly inadequate or at best selective data. While there is value in "doing the best one can" with the resources at hand, building a defensible science requires a cold hard look at the quality of theory, research and data. This paper draws upon the authors' assessment of data and critical literature review to examine the implications of common "sticky points" in modeling residential energy consumption. These include: variability in consumption within and across households, data quality issues, conflicts among various modeling approaches and underlying theoretical constructs, and tacit beliefs about causal relationships. The combination of uncertainties in these areas can lead to adoption of cautious (and sometimes misleading) assumptions, and to conservative policy approaches that hedge against behavioral failures in efforts to secure energy savings.


The goal of this project is to develop next-generation models, data sources, policy and technology analyses to provide an improved understanding of residential demand for natural gas, both directly consumed and through electricity demands. The results are intended to improve energy policies and energy efficiency programs, to accelerate the reduction of California greenhouse gas emissions, and to help develop improved modes of decision support for policies.

© 2010 ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings

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