Specific Barriers and Drivers in Different Stages of Decision-Making about Energy Efficiency Upgrades in Private Homes

Front Psychol. 2016 Sep 8;7:1362. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01362. eCollection 2016.

Abstract

Energy efficiency upgrades of privately owned homes like adding to the insulation layers in the walls, roof or floor, or replacing windows with more efficiently insulated versions can contribute significantly to reducing the energy impact of the building sector and thus also the CO2 footprint of a household. However, even in countries like Norway that have a rather high rate of renovation, energy upgrades are not always integrated into such a refurbishment project. This study tests which structural and internal psychological barriers hinder and which drivers foster decision-making to implement such measures, once a renovation project is planned. With a theoretical background in stage-based models of decision-making 24 barriers and drivers were tested for their specific effect in the stages of decision-making. The four stages of decision-making assumed in this study were (1) "not being in a decision mode," (2) "deciding what to do," (3) "deciding how to do it," and (4) "planning implementation." Based on an online survey of 3787 Norwegian households, it was found that the most important barriers toward deciding to implement energy efficiency upgrades were not owning the dwelling and feeling the right time had not come yet. The most important drivers of starting to decide were higher expected comfort levels, better expected living conditions, and an expected reduction of energy costs. For the transition from deciding what to do to how to do it, not managing to make a decision and feeling the right point in time has not come yet were the strongest barriers, easily accessible information and an expected reduction of energy costs were the most important drivers. The final transition from deciding how to do the upgrades to planning implementation was driven by expecting a payoff within a reasonable time frame and higher expected comfort levels; the most important barriers were time demands for supervising contractors and-again-a feeling that the right point in time has not come yet. Implications for policy-making and marketing are discussed.

Keywords: barriers; decision stages; drivers; energy efficiency upgrades; private homes; transtheoretical model.