Human habits and energy consumption in residential buildings

Of all parameters defining end use for heating in dwellings, user's habits introduce the largest uncertainty. The term rebound was introduced to cover the fact that improved efficiency ended in more spending. Indeed, lower annual heating costs in energy efficient residential buildings saw inhabitants, if they have to pay the energy themselves, demanding more thermal comfort.
Direct rebound has major consequences. Primary energy consumed annually for lighting and appliances for example has a larger share than commonly thought in the annual primary energy use in homes. Imposing ever more severe efficiency measures also turns out to be less rewarding than assumed. This should be kept in mind by policy makers when introducing ever more severe legal requirements for new construction and retrofit. To give an example, the Passivhaus adepts claim a factor 8 reduction in total annual primary energy consumption, compared to hardly insulated dwellings. For the 1950-ties homes followed in this study, measurements gave an average reduction 2.6, or, 3 times less then advocated.
This study gives the factual proof that direct rebound plays a prominent role in the annual end energy consumption for heating in residential buildings, based on measured data over a long enough period of time.
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  • Looks into users’ heating habits in residential buildings.
  • Discusses the term ‘rebound’ - the fact that improved efficiency can result in more spending.
  • Gives factual proof that direct rebound plays leading role in energy consumption in residential buildings.

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