Under the headline ”Saving requirements are unsuccessful”, an article in the Danish newspaper ’Ingeniøren’ reveals how the energy consumption in low energy houses is practically the same as in standard houses according to recent studies. The conclusion is that the residents need help saving energy – something that the SURE! project has acknowledged from the outset.
Increasingly strict requirements for energy consumption in new houses were supposed cut the energy consumption in half from 2008 to 2015. However, two studies now show that consumption has only dropped marginally in new houses despite more insulation and better windows.
Apparently, the problem is that residents in low energy houses seem enjoy the heat so much that they turn up the radiator – as if the low energy house encourages them to not care about the energy consumption. The trouble is that it is the behaviour that is crucial to the consumption.
The study compares the calculated energy consumption of 230,000 single-family homes with the actual heat consumption, and researchers were surprised to learn that the actual energy consumption practically doesn’t change, although the houses have had far better insulation and have become more energy efficient.
Professor Kirsten Gram-Hanssen from the Danish Building Research Institute, who is behind one of the studies, concludes:
We thought that the desired savings could be achieved by tightening energy limits for new houses, but it is apparently not enough.
The results indicate that it IS possible to use very little energy in the new houses, however, very few people take advantage of these possibilities.
SURE! acknowledges that adverse effects are not uncommon
In some of the studies that preceded the SURE! project, it was acknowledged that adverse effects – or ‘rebound’ effects often occur, because current retrofitting processes mostly focus on structural changes of the buildings and rarely take into account the potential of involving residents to achieve more energy efficient habits. As a result, the SURE! project concluded that there was a need for efforts to create sustainable patterns of behavior and to prevent these so-called rebound effects (e. g. effects of people thinking they can waste energy because they live in an energy efficient mortgage).
In fact, the project estimates that there is a potential for saving up to 15% on the energy consumption by inspiring and engaging residents and tenants in multi-storey buildings in more energy efficient habits – and that is on top of the 15% savings, which the projects expects to achieve through the technical solution that optimizes the heat consumption in the building.
Later this year, the SURE! project will introduce an exciting new concept in two of the project trial sites, which will make residents more aware of their own energy consumption – and hopefully inspire them to adopt more energy efficient habits.
Read the full article from Ingeniøren here (only in Danish)