Energy waste in households research gets funding

Bath University has secured a grant of £1.5 million from the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council for research into energy efficient behaviour. Academics are investigating attitudes to energy use […]

By Tom Gibson

Bath University has secured a grant of £1.5 million from the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council for research into energy efficient behaviour. Academics are investigating attitudes to energy use in the home and aim to design an innovative ‘smart system’ to change habits and reduce energy-driven carbon emissions.

The team says the UK’s move to a low carbon economy will require an increase in ‘energy literacy’. Members of the public will need to better understand the energy implications of their lifestyle.

Principal investigator Professor David Coley said: “There can be a fourfold difference in energy consumption between adjacent houses, we need to find out reason for this and design a system that will allow the energy profligate to become, if they wish, the energy lean.”

The team admits that similar studies concerned with building energy usage have failed in the past, which has resulted in a long-term approach to their research.

“This project will specifically target long-term sustained effects by focusing on changes to the habitual behaviours of building occupants and not just short-term responses to interventions,” Prof Coley added.

The smart system will use a thermal picture of the building, a model of the occupant’s habits and needs and map energy use in the building. Using a range of data, the research team will develop an understanding of the occupants’ attitudes and habits.

These models will inform the system and hypothetically help occupants to identify and break poor energy habits, develop better ones and reduce energy demand and emissions.