Nontechnical Aspects of Household Energy Reductions

  • Patrick MoriartyEmail author
  • Damon Honnery
Reference work entry


Domestic energy forms a significant part of total energy use in OECD countries, accounting for 22 % in the USA in 2011. Together with private travel, domestic energy reductions are one of the few ways that households can directly reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Although domestic energy costs form a minor part of average household expenditure, the unit costs for domestic electricity and natural gas vary by a factor of 4 and 5, respectively, among OECD countries, and per capita use is strongly influenced by these costs. Other influences on domestic energy use are household income, household size, residence type (apartment/flat vs. detached house), and regional climate. Numerous campaigns have been carried out in various countries to reduce household energy use. A large literature has analyzed both the results of these studies and the general psychology of pro-environmental behavior, yet the findings often seem to conflict with the national statistical data.

The authors argue that the rising frequency of extreme weather events (especially heat waves, storms, and floods), together with sea level rises, is likely to be a key factors in getting both the public and policy makers to treat global climate change as a matter of urgency. Costs of domestic energy are likely to rise in the future, possibly because of carbon taxes. But such taxes will need to be supplemented by other policies that not only encourage the use of more efficient energy-consuming appliances but also unambiguously support energy and emission reductions in all sectors.


Australia Barriers to conservation Carbon taxes Climate extremes Conflicting policies Domestic energy consumption Ecological citizenship Electricity use Energy conservation context Energy costs Energy efficiency Energy performance rating Environmentally friendly modes European Union (EU) Extreme weather Fossil fuel reserves Fossil fuel depletion Gross national income (GNI) Household expenditure Household size Household income Income inequality Information provision Involuntary environmentalists Japan Moral licensing National statistical data Natural gas use Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Personal carbon trading Pro-environmental behavior Refrigerators Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) Smart houses Social context Social cost of carbon Social marketing Social psychology Space heating Structure of domestic energy costs Unintended consequences United Kingdom Urban density Urban heat island United States 



Australian Bureau of Statistics


Energy Information Administration (US)


Exajoule (1018 J)


Energy performance rating


European Union


Greenhouse gas


Gigajoule (109 J)


Gross national income


Gigatonne (109 tonne)


International Energy Agency


Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change


Information technology


Megawatt-hour (106 W-hour)


Natural gas


Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development


Office for National Statistics (UK)


Personal carbon trading


Pro-environmental behavior


Representative Concentration Pathway


Statistics Bureau Japan


Social cost of carbon


Urban heat island


United Nations


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of DesignMonash UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Mechanical and Aerospace EngineeringMonash UniversityMelbourneAustralia

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