Do homes that are more energy efficient consume less energy?: A structural equation model of the English residential sector

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Journal Article
Energy, 2011, 36 (9), pp. 5610 - 5620
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Energy consumption from the residential sector is a complex socio-technical problem that can be explained using a combination of physical, demographic and behavioural characteristics of a dwelling and its occupants. A structural equation model (SEM) is introduced to calculate the magnitude and significance of explanatory variables on residential energy consumption. The benefit of this approach is that it explains the complex relationships that exist between manifest variables and their overall effect though direct, indirect and total effects. Using the English House Condition Survey (EHCS) consisting of 2531 unique cases, the main drivers behind residential energy consumption are found to be the number of household occupants, floor area, household income, dwelling efficiency (SAP), household heating patterns and living room temperature. In the multivariate case, SAP explains very little of the variance of residential energy consumption. However, this procedure fails to account for simultaneity bias between energy consumption and SAP. Using SEM its shown that dwelling energy efficiency (SAP), has reciprocal causality with dwelling energy consumption and the magnitude of these two effects are calculable. When non-recursivity between SAP and energy consumption is allowed for, SAP is shown to have a negative effect on energy consumption but conversely, homes with a propensity to consume more energy also have higher SAP rates. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.
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