The influence of energy labels on home renovation practices
Heating of dwellings represents a major policy challenge for the transition to a low carbon society. In Denmark, heating of dwellings represents about 25% of the total Danish final energy consumption and about 13% of the total CO2 emission. The majority of this is related to heating of older dwellings, and as the rate of replacement is low, the main potential for energy saving is to improve the energy efficiency of the existing dwelling stock through energy renovation. This paper provides an analysis of Danish experiences with energy labels (also known as the Energy Performance Certificate, EPC), which indicate the energy efficiency of buildings and include recommendations for improvements. The aim of the EPC is to motivate homeowners to do energy improvements. In Denmark, energy audit schemes dates back to the early 1980s and energy rating of houses (energy labelling) was introduced in 1997. The long history of energy audit schemes and energy labelling makes Denmark an interesting case for the study of the experiences with and impact of this kind of policy measure. With the EU Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) from 2002, an energy labelling scheme similar to the Danish scheme introduced in 1997 is now in use in all EU member states. The focus of this paper is on the homeowners’ experience and use of the EPC and the key research questions are: How do the homeowners understand and use the EPC? Does the EPC have an influence on home energy renovation practices? The analysis is based on results from a survey of Danish homeowners who have purchased a home with an EPC within recent years. The Danish survey is part of the European project IDEAL EPBD, which was funded by the European Commission under the Intelligent Energy Europe programme and run from 2008 to 2011. The results indicate a rather limited influence of the EPC on Danish homeowners’ home energy renovation practices. Also, the results show that even though most homeowners find the label both reliable and easy to understand, less than 40% find it useful as a source of information on how to improve the energy efficiency of their home.
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10th Conference of the European Sociological Association (esa2011): Social relations in turbulent times, 2011