Energy efficiency and using less – a social sciences and humanities annotated bibliography

Mourik, Ruth, Jeuken, Yvette, de Zeeuw, Mariska, Uitdenbogerd, Diana, van Summeren, Luc, Wilhite, Harold, Robison, Rosalyn A. V., Heidenreich, Sara, Blahová, Michaela, Pidoux, Blandine, Kern-Gillard, Thomas, Arrobbio, Osman, Sonetti, Giulia, Throndsen, William, Fox, Emmet, Nikolaev, Angel, Radulov, Lulin, Sari, Ramazan, Sumpf, Patrick and Balint, Lenke (2017) Energy efficiency and using less – a social sciences and humanities annotated bibliography. Other. SHAPE ENERGY, Cambridge, UK.

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The challenge: * Technological progress and changes in energy supply are not sufficient for a transition to a low-carbon energy system; demand also needs to be considered. Energy efficiency and reducing total consumption - the topics of this bibliography - are typical elements of a demand side approach. * The uptake of energy efficient technologies, and understanding how we might use less energy, represent big challenges for researchers, policymakers, practitioners and end-users themselves. The aim: * European energy policy has so far mainly relied on research from Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines. Energy-related Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH) have been significantly underrepresented. This bibliography aims to discuss different disciplinary perspectives on energy efficiency and using less and to demonstrate their relevance for energy policy. Coverage: * A major focus of this bibliography is on behaviour and behavioural change. The bibliography highlights the diversity of end-users and their needs, the impacts they experience, abilities, as well as the range of sites where energy is consumed. * It also looks at how SSH research addresses more structural elements of demand - such as markets, institutions, and policy - and how these interact. Key findings: * There is no such thing as a one size fits all approach; different disciplines frame the problems of energy efficiency and using less differently, and do not always agree. Economics is very highly represented in research about energy efficiency, closely followed by Sociology. Other disciplines such as Urban Studies and Industrial Design are slowly becoming part of the work. * Most disciplines focus mainly on mainstream types of users and use. Fewer studies focus on the exceptions - deviants, others, non-users or energy poor, excessive users - or low-energy practices such as sleep, music making or sports. * Electricity is the main focus of most social science research on energy use and efficiency, possibly due to a focus on monitoring savings which is more difficult for gas and energy for hot water use. * There is an overrepresentation of work on feedback devices and smart meters, in contrast to more everyday technologies such as water heaters or washing machines. Several studies urge for more study of this everyday material culture because it strongly shapes how users can engage in using less or using more efficiently; some technologies are simply built to have high energy use. * Less research is done on the responsibility of stakeholders (other than the end-user) for the energy transition, especially the market. It is argued that markets are not neutral or depoliticised, but bear responsibility for the energy transition too. * Dominant areas of research include: a focus on the gap between awareness and actual energy behaviour action; and rebound effects, which may arise when increased energy efficiency leads to lower costs for energy which in turn may lead to increased energy consumption. * New areas of research include new demand side initiatives, services/business models and markets such as peer-to-peer, DIY, and community approaches to engagement. * Most demand side approaches in the policy domain focus on cost reduction, education and communication. Insights from Social Sciences such as Sociology, Anthropology, Urban studies, Ethics, and Science and Technology Studies see less uptake in the policy domain.

Item Type: Research Report or Working Paper (Other)
Keywords: energy efficiency, SHAPE ENERGY
Faculty: ARCHIVED Faculty of Science & Technology (until September 2018)
Depositing User: Lisa Blanshard
Date Deposited: 18 Sep 2017 15:19
Last Modified: 28 Apr 2022 14:54

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