Shall I Open the Window? An Experiment on Effort and Habits in Thermal-Comfort Adjustment Practices
FCN Working Paper No. 19/2016
40 Pages Posted: 1 Feb 2017
Date Written: December 2016
Energy retrofits of residential dwellings, ceteris paribus, result in a new socio-technical system characterized by higher room temperatures. In the new environment, individuals might change their type of interaction with the building and exert a certain level of effort to adapt to the new comfort situation depending on their previous practices. In this paper, by means of a Discrete Choice Experiment conducted among 3,161 tenants and owner-occupiers in Germany, we investigate preferences for practices implemented to adjust thermal comfort in retrofitted buildings, thus attempting to reconcile rational choice with social practice theories. We focus on effort and habits but our models also account for the type of control over the room temperature, adjustment time, and clothing. Our results show that in the presence of an obstruction, like potted plants or other decorative paraphernalia, in the proximity of the interaction point with the system, respondents dislike exerting effort to fully open the window but would still make the effort to switch off the heating system. Moreover, respondents with more environmentally-friendly heating and ventilation habits particularly dislike tilting the windows rather than opening them wide; however, after the retrofit they tend to prefer wearing lighter clothes at home. By quantitatively measuring the impact of each factor in the decision-making process, we contribute to the ongoing rebound debate in the energy economics and social psychology literature alike.
Keywords: Social practice theory, Generalized mixed logit, Discrete choice experiment, Energy efficiency, Thermal comfort, Germany
JEL Classification: C25, C90, D12, Q40, R20
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation