There is great potential to improve energy efficiency in existing Swedish residential buildings. However, the successful implementation of efficiency measures depends on economical and technical factors, as well as on the attitudes and perceptions of the relevant actors. A better understanding of their attitudes and perceptions may influence the design of suitable policy measures that increase the adoption of energy efficiency measures. In this context, we conducted mail-in surveys completed by owners of detached houses, chairmen of co-operative housing associations (bostadsrättsförening) and municipality energy advisers in Sweden. We also interviewed window sellers/installers in Jämtland.
Results show that it was important for the majority of homeowners to reduce their household energy use, with most undertaking no-cost measures (e.g., switching off lights). However, 70–90% of the responding homeowners had no intention of adopting building envelope measures over the next 10 years. The main reason for non-adoption was that homeowners were satisfied with the physical condition and thermal performance of their existing building envelope components. Homeowners who thought their energy cost was high were more likely to adopt an investment measure compared to those who thought their energy cost was low. Investment costs and annual energy cost savings were the most important factors in adoption of energy efficient building envelope measures. Therefore, economic incentives may induce homeowners to adopt energy efficiency investment measures. However, a large percentage (64%) of homeowners was unaware of the existence of government support for reducing household energy use. Information campaigns announcing the availability of economic incentives and the cost advantages of energy efficiency measures may be helpful in the adoption decision.
Homeowners‘ considered interpersonal sources, builders, installers and energy advisers as important sources of information for their adoption of energy efficiency measures. Though a large percentage of respondents considered energy advisers as an important source of information, only 14% of homeowners had contacted an energy adviser in the past. Our findings suggest that the energy advice service is important for homeowners, but more efforts are needed to increase homeowners‘ awareness of and satisfaction with such services. The majority of municipal energy advisers were of the opinion that more training in technical aspects of energy issues and increased financial support could improve their performance.
Installers and material suppliers are important actors in homeowners‘ adoption of energy efficiency measures. For example, approximately 53% of responding homeowners to a survey in Jämtland/Västernorrland stated that the window seller/installer from whom they had bought windows had recommended a particular type of window, and 97% had installed the windows that were recommended. The window sellers/installers in Jämtland prefer a window that is ―reasonably‖ energy efficient. They believe that windows with a U-value of 1.2 W/m2K are good and there is no reason to further improve the energy efficiency. The majority did not recommend windows with U-value <1.2 W/m2K. They were concerned about the condensation issues and high prices of such windows. This may influence the diffusion of very energy efficient windows in Swedish detached houses.
About 80-95% of chairmen in co-operative housing associations who responded to our survey had no intention of adopting building envelope measures over the next 10 years. They were satisfied with the existing building envelope components, which may be one of the reasons for this lack of intention. As in the case of owners of detached houses, economic factors, like annual energy cost savings and investment costs, guide the implementation of energy efficiency investment measures in co-operative housing associations. However, about 66% of the responding chairmen did not consider financial constraint as a barrier to implementing investment intensive energy efficiency measures. For 54% of the respondents limited in-house competency to evaluate the benefits of energy efficiency measures was the main barrier.
The majority of owners of detached houses (80%) and chairmen of co-operative housing associations (70%) perceived that economic policy instruments, such as investment subsidies and tax deductions, would encourage them to implement energy efficiency measures. Other policy instruments, especially information instruments, were perceived as less effective. Among various information policies, increasing the frequency of meter reading received the highest approval with 38% of homeowners, whereas approximately 41% of housing association chairmen thought that individual metering of heating and hot water use could be effective. Approximately 30% of homeowners and housing association chairmen thought that energy declaration was effective.
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The Swedish Energy Agency (STEM) finances research programs to identify and implement energy efficiency options. Under the program ―Allmänna energisystemstudier‖ STEM has financed the project entitled ―Implementing energy efficiency measures in the existing building stock‖. This report is a summary of the achieved results. December 17, 2010 Östersund, Sweden