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Energy consumption from dwellings : do we understand it?

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Complimentary tea coffee and biscuits will be served


The importance of the residential sector in the struggle against climate change is obvious. In the UK, over 30% of total energy is consumed by the residential sector with resulting CO2 emissions contributing to approximately 45% of total emissions. Given the scale of energy consumption and emissions from the residential sector the need for thorough, effective and robust analysis is obvious. Yet, there is still very little understanding as to how energy is finally consumed in UK dwellings. This seminar will hear from three speakers who will each present unique insight into residential energy consumption from UK dwellings. Scott Kelly will present new research that uses a structural equation model to identify what factors explain household energy consumption. Ian Hamilton will discuss the importance of accurate large datasets and how these can be used effectively to measure the efficacy of government policy on household energy efficiency. Finally, Jason Palmer will talk about what hope the UK may have at reaching the government’s ambitious 80% CO2 reduction from housing by 2050.

  • Dr Jason Palmer Director, Cambridge Architectural Research Limited
  • Ian Hamilton, Research Associate, UCL Energy Institute
  • Scott Kelly PhD student, Department of Land Economy, University of Cambridge

Speakers’ Abstracts

Dr Jason Palmer: “Cutting Carbon Emissions from UK Homes: Are we on track?”

The new government has high aspirations for reducing climate change emissions. Policies and targets are aligned with scientific opinion about the scale of change we need. However, the government only applied scientific thinking to what savings are possible (from housing at least) after the targets were set. What hope is there of meeting the 80% reduction target from housing by 2050?

Ian Hamilton: “Energy & Buildings: The impct of the UK’s energy efficiency interventions on households”

Ian Hamilton, a Research Associate with the UCL Energy Institute, will talk about the UK’s Energy & Building Data Framework project, which has drawn together physical data on around 11 million dwellings in the UK and have been linked individually to data on their actual gas and electricity consumption. The talk will focus on findings and analysis on the impact of energy efficiency interventions in the UK household stock and the influence of behavioural tendencies through socio-economic factors. He will also briefly discuss the opportunities of such a dataset for improving the precision and reliability with which low carbon strategies are framed, guided and evaluated.

Scott Kelly: “Do more energy efficient buildings consume less energy?”

With the growing threat of climate change and the rising costs of energy, the ability to accurately predict energy consumption and carbon emissions from the residential sector is now imperative. Using structural equation modelling (SEM) it is possible to identify the underlying causal relationships between variables that explain residential energy consumption. Using the 1996 English House Condition Survey consisting of 2531 unique cases it is found that there are several variables that confound energy consumption. The variables that most significantly explain energy consumption include household occupancy rates, household income, winter weekly heating patterns, living room temperature, floor area and dwelling efficiency ratings (SAP). In this model the direct effects, indirect effects and total effects for each variable are shown. More importantly it is shown that dwelling energy efficiency, measured by SAP , has reciprocal causality with energy consumption and the magnitude of these two independent effects can be calculated using SEM .

This talk is part of the Sustainability in the Built Environment (GreenBRIDGE) series.

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