What Can We Learn from the Household Electricity Survey?

Godoy-Shimizu, Daniel; Palmer, Jason; Terry, Nicola
December 2014
Buildings (2075-5309);2014, Vol. 4 Issue 4, p737
Academic Journal
The reasons for high carbon emissions from domestic buildings are complex, and have both social and technical dimensions. At the same time, it is costly and very time-consuming to gather reliable data on energy use in the home. The authors had early access to data from the Household Electricity Survey-the most detailed survey of electricity consumption in UK homes ever undertaken-which monitored 250 homes. The data enabled the authors to investigate a series of socio-technical questions drawn up by the UK Government: Why do some households use far more energy than average, whereas others use much less? What potential is there for shifting "peak load" so that electricity demand is more even through the day? Why is base load electricity use so high? The answers were seldom definitive, but statistical tests found significant correlations between high electricity use and social grade, large household size, unemployment and middle age; and between low electricity use and single-person households, small dwellings, and retirement. This paper draws out key findings from the work, and examines how these insights affect our broader understanding of carbon emissions from the built environment.


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