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                    to take enterprising action
against climate change

Energy Use and Behaviour Change

Behaviour change concerning energy use is an emerging area of research that has important implications for policy. This note introduces the factors and interventions that can influence behaviour. It also discusses the behavioural aspects of the Green Deal and the smart meters programme.

Human behaviour is the way that people act socially and in the environment and spans a number of scientific disciplines including psychology, sociology, behavioural economics and neuroscience. Over recent years, behaviour change has gained prominence in policy with the House of Lords (HoL) Science and Technology Select (S&T) Committee inquiry on behaviour change1 and creation of the Cabinet Office’s Behavioural Insights Team.

Encouraging consumers to reduce and change their patterns of energy use at home could make a significant contribution to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, as required by the Climate Change Act (2008). In 2010, 27% of the UK’s end-user GHG emissions came from the residential sector, the majority from space and water heating.

A central scenario from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) for meeting carbon budgets involves 98 mega-tonnes of CO2 (MtCO2) being saved by the residential sector in the year 2030, which is a 34% of the total required reduction from 2010 levels.2 This depends upon consumers choosing to insulate 90% of lofts, 90% of cavity walls and 45% of solid walls, measures that would save 2.0, 4.9 and 6.0 MtCO2 respectively.2 It also requires the uptake of more efficient appliances, adoption of low-carbon technologies such as heat pumps (which will be covered in a forthcoming POSTnote), and changes in the way that consumers use energy.

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