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Consumer Response and Behaviour - Primary Consumer Research (Phase 1) Report (WA5 WP5.4)


Citation Energy Endeavours Consortium Consumer Response and Behaviour - Primary Consumer Research (Phase 1) Report (WA5 WP5.4), ETI, 2013. https://doi.org/10.5286/UKERC.EDC.000530.
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Author(s) Energy Endeavours Consortium
Project partner(s) PRP Architects Limited, UCL Energy Institute, Frontier Economics, The Technology Partnership, The Peabody Trust, National Centre for Social Research, Hitachi Europe
Publisher ETI
DOI https://doi.org/10.5286/UKERC.EDC.000530
Download SSH_SS1501_15.pdf document type
Associated Project(s) ETI-SS1501: Smart Systems and Heat (SSH) Programme - Consumer Behaviour Study
Associated Dataset(s) No associated datasets
Abstract The delivery of consumer energy requirements is a key focus of the Smart Systems and Heat Programme. The Consumer Response and Behavior Project will identify consumer requirements and predict consumer response to Smart Energy System proposals, providing a consumer focus for the other Work Areas. This project involved thousands of respondents providing insight into consumer requirements for heat and energy services, both now and in the future. Particular focus was given to identifying the behaviour that leads people to consume energy - in particular heat and hot water. This £3m project was led by PRP Architects, experts in the built environment. It involved a consortium of academia and industry - UCL Energy Institute, Frontier Economics, The Technology Partnership, The Peabody Trust, National Centre for Social Research and Hitachi Europe

This report aims to map the rangeand diversity of heat energy needs and behaviour of domestic consumers in the UK. Drawing on a multi-faceted project of primary consumer research, it also presents an emerging framework for understanding why consumers behave as they do, and how and why these needs and behaviours vary across the population. This study represents one of the first systematic attempts to understand heat energy behaviour in terms of what people are trying to achieve. For the purposes of this report, therefore, we have adopted a broad definition of needs.

Heat energy needs are understood here as what people are aiming to achieve through using heat energy or things they achieve as a consequence of using heat energy.  Our aim here is to make it easier to comprehend the full diversity and complexity of needs that exist within the general population and select categories that help us understandwhy households have different priorities. The four categories of needs are as follows
  • Health and wellbeing
  • Resources e.g. finances, waste
  • Agency - the capacity and willingness of a person to act independently and make choices
  • Relational dynamics - the social relationship between the individual or household and others, including the wider world
Based on which of these factors are in operation, any given household can be classified as one of three ‘types’, each characterised by a distinct combination and prioritisation of the four needs categories.
  • YOU – decisions made on the basis of the needs of a dependent individual;
  • US – decisions made on the basis of needs of multiple household members;
  • ME – decisions made on the basis of the self-interest of individuals.
This has enabled us to devise a framework which can be used by other work packages in this project to identify where efforts should be focused, to design and implement smart energy systems in a way that is informed by a detailed understanding of the needs and priorities of different types of household.

This report was prepared for the ETI by the consortium that delivered the project in 2013 and whose contents may be out of date and may not represent current thinking.