As a consequence of the improved quality of thermal properties of buildings due to energy regulations, overall energy use associated with building characteristics is decreasing, making the role of the occupant more important. Studies have shown that occupant behaviour might play a prominent role in the variation in energy consumption in different households but the extent of such influence is unknown. The impact of the building's thermal characteristics on space heating demand has been well studied. There is however, little work done that incorporates the impact of consumer behaviour. This study aims to gain greater insight into the effect of occupant behaviour on energy consumption for space heating by determining its effect on the variation of energy consumption in dwellings while controlling for building characteristics. The KWR database from the Ministry of Housing in the Netherlands was used. This study showed that occupant characteristics and behaviour significantly affect energy use (4.2%), but building characteristics still determine a large part of the energy use in a dwelling (42%). Further analysis showed that some occupant behaviour is determined by the type of dwelling or HVAC systems and, therefore, the effect of occupant characteristics might be larger than expected, since these determine the type of dwelling.
Guerra Santin, O., Itard, L., & Visscher, H. (2009). The effect of occupancy and building characteristics on energy use for space and water heating in Dutch residential stock. Energy and Buildings, 41(11), 1223-1232. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.enbuild.2009.07.002