Who is behaving? Consequences for energy policy of concept confusion

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Policies to reduce household energy use usually target the individual customer. This is probably one explanation for the limited effect of many information policies, because two concepts with different meanings are confused: individual and household. In most contexts, an individual stands for what s/he does, but in the policy context, an individual is taken to represent the entire household. This is not problematic for a single-person household, but, in a multi-person household, activities performed by different household members influence the whole household's energy use. This paper illuminates problems arising from confusing the concepts of household and individual when developing policies to reduce household energy use. Examples relate to indoor space heating and energy-intensive home-based activities. The results indicate that it is analytically simple to consider individuals at home, as well as their activities using electrical appliances contributing to heating, but much more complicated to take the whole household into consideration. Our model provides a basis for better-targeted information actions to reduce energy use. Also, empirically based models capturing variations between households with different activity patterns are important for developing policies resulting in reduced energy use for space heating in multi-person households.


External organisations
  • Linköping University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified


  • Activities, Consumer, Energy conservation, Energy use, Household, Individual, Indoor space heating, Information, Policy, Time diaries
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7618-7637
Number of pages20
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Aug 1
Publication categoryResearch
Externally publishedYes