Beyond climate, culture and comfort in European preferences for low-carbon heat

Benjamin K. Sovacool, Christina Demski, Lance Noel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (SciVal)

Abstract

It is imperative that climate, energy, and sustainability policy researchers and practitioners grapple with the difficulty of decarbonizing heat, which remains the largest single end-use energy service worldwide. In this study, based on a comparative assessment of five original and representative national surveys in Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom (N = 10,109), we explore public attitudes of household heat decarbonization in Europe. We explore how people conceive of the purposes of low-carbon heat, their preferences for particular forms of heat supply, and their (at times odd) practices of heat consumption and temperature settings. The data reveal four significant challenges to heat decarbonization that are consistent across geographies: 1) High satisfaction with existing, often fossil fuel based, heating systems; 2) Varying and divergent preferences and expectations for thermal comfort; 3) Householders unlikely to change their heating system in the near-term, in part driven by low familiarity and knowledge of alternative systems; and 4) heat satisfaction appears lower as the fuel mix is decarbonized. The paper concludes by connecting these findings with policy and research implications.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102200
JournalGlobal Environmental Change
Volume66
Early online date29 Dec 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors gratefully acknowledge support from UK Research and Innovation through the Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions (CREDS), grant reference number EP/R035288/1, the Centre for Climate Change and Social Transformations (CAST), grant reference number ES/S012257/1, and the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC), grant reference number EP/S029575/1. This paper has also received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement no. 764025. The content of this deliverable does not reflect the official opinion of the European Union. Responsibility for the information and views expressed herein lies entirely with the author(s).

Funding Information:
The authors gratefully acknowledge support from UK Research and Innovation through the Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions (CREDS), grant reference number EP/R035288/1, the Centre for Climate Change and Social Transformations (CAST), grant reference number ES/S012257/1, and the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC), grant reference number EP/S029575/1. This paper has also received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement no. 764025. The content of this deliverable does not reflect the official opinion of the European Union. Responsibility for the information and views expressed herein lies entirely with the author(s).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Author(s)

Keywords

  • Cross-national survey
  • Energy services and practices
  • Heat as a service
  • Heat decarbonization
  • Residential heating
  • Social acceptance of heat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Ecology
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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