Assessing socio-economic determinants of energy-saving behavior in Waterloo Region
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The residential sector is responsible for significant amounts of energy consumption; leading to several important social, economic, and environmental issues. The expected future population growth will require additional residential units to be built, and thus, more energy is expected to be consumed. Different sources of energy are consumed by households for many purposes, and the amount of consumed energy by the different household activities varies widely. Therefore, households are considered as an important target group that can help reduce the levels of energy consumption and mitigate several sustainability concerns through energy-saving behavior. The energy-saving behavior is regarded as a sub-set of larger and more general environment-friendly or pro-environmental behaviors and it can be categorized into two broad categories: energy conservation behaviors and energy efficiency behaviors. In this study, which aims at providing a better understanding of households’ energy conservation and efficiency behaviors and identifying the various determinates or characteristics that predict people who are likely to engage in such behaviors, the relationships between the number of reported energy saving behaviors by 401 respondents and several psychological, situational, and socio-demographic determinants were examined. The findings of the study underscore the complexity associated with examining and understanding households’ energy-related behaviors and the various determinants that are able to influence such behaviors. According to the findings of this thesis, except for the moderate relationship that was identified between the independent variable (home ownership) and the number of reported energy efficiency behaviors, the relationships between all the examined independent variables and the number of reported energy conservation and efficiency behaviors were found either weak or statistically insignificant. More specifically, the independent variables (knowledge, cost-benefit appraisal, information, dwelling type, year home was built, income, number of people in the home, and the relationship status of the participants) were found to have statistically significant, but weak relationships with both the number of reported energy conservation and efficiency behaviors. However, other determinants like (gender, age, employment, having children at home, and the city/township that the study participants reside in) were found to have no statistically significant relationship with both the number of reported energy conservation and efficiency behaviors. Moreover, independent variables like (attitude of the study participants, subjective norms, and the level of education) were found to have statistically significant weak relationship with the number of reported energy conservation behaviors, but not with the number of reported energy efficiency behaviors. Given the complexity and heterogeneity of human behavior that can be affected by a number of interacting intrinsic and extrinsic variables, this study recommends that future research should examine additional determinants that were not addressed in this work. It is also recommended and advisable to measure the actual energy conservation and efficiency behaviors of households whenever possible, as this will help provide better and more accurate understanding of households’ energy related behaviors. This means that more effective interventions can be designed and implemented in order to achieve the desired sustainable behavior patterns and lower the levels of energy consumption in the residential sector.
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Ghaith Abu-Ashour (2018). Assessing socio-economic determinants of energy-saving behavior in Waterloo Region. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/13292
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