Householders’ readiness for demand-side response: A qualitative study of how domestic tasks might be shifted in time

Ian Walker, Aimie Hope

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8 Citations (SciVal)
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Domestic demand-side response (DSR) involves having householders shift energy-consumptive behaviours forwards or backwards in time to avoid peak-demand periods. Time of Use tariffs, which vary the cost of energy depending on when it is used, are a proposed mechanism for DSR. However, we do not know which behaviours, if any, are amenable to being brought forward or postponed, nor what information people would need to do this. Here we presented people with hypothetical variable financial costs and, for the first time, carbon costs for future energy consumption. People's think-aloud decisions about when they would perform consumptive activities were qualitatively analysed. We show that non-daily high-consumption activities (e.g., ironing, vacuuming) are perceived as moveable in response to price changes or, notably, information about environmental consequences; but barriers to moving other activities, even in the face of higher costs or environmental harm, include household dynamics (difficulties negotiating consumption across cohabitants), social roles, community living (not wishing to disturb neighbours), lack of energy literacy and the routine nature of many tasks. This study provides a framework for understanding which behaviours might or might not be shifted and what guidance and information may be needed by householders if tariffs are to provide effective DSR.
Original languageEnglish
Article number109888
JournalEnergy and Buildings
Early online date26 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2020


  • Demand-side response
  • Energy literacy
  • Households
  • Social practices

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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