Families, houses, and the demand for energy

by Kevin Neels

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Previous studies of residential energy consumption have either focused on single-fuel use or relied on aggregated consumption data. This study analyzes determinants of total residential energy use at the level of the individual residential property. According to the study findings, household characteristics such as size, income, and behavior have measurably less effect on energy use than physical housing characteristics like insulation, the amount of space to be heated, and whether the dwelling is a single- or multiple-family unit. Thus, from a policy viewpoint, the most immediately effective means of reducing residential energy consumption would be to change household behavior with respect to thermostat settings and shutting of doors and windows. But it would be much more effective in the long run to make energy-efficient alterations in existing housing and in the design of new residential construction.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation note series. The note was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1979 to 1993 that reported other outputs of sponsored research for general distribution.

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