Occupant behaviour in energy efficient dwellings: evidence of a rebound effect

O.G. Santin (Corresponding author)

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The energy required for space heating has been significantly reduced in recent decades by making use of insulation and more efficient heating and ventilation systems. Even so, wide variations in energy consumption are still observed between similar dwellings and between actual and predicted levels. It is thought that these variations stem from differences in occupant behaviour, the structural quality of the building, and a rebound effect. This paper statistically examines differences in occupant behaviour in relation to the building characteristics of the housing stock in the Netherlands and explores the possible existence of a rebound effect on the consumption of energy for space heating. Rebound effect can be defined as the increase on energy consumption in services for which improvements in energy efficiency reduce the costs. We found that although energy consumption is lower in energy efficient dwellings, analysis of the behaviour variables indicates their occupants tend to prefer higher indoor temperatures and to ventilate less. This finding might be related to a rebound effect on occupant behaviour. However, the improvement of thermal properties and systems efficiency still lead to a reduction on energy consumption for heating.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)311-327
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Housing and the Built Environment
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


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