Antecedents of Energy Literacy and Energy Saving Behaviour: A Mixed Methods Approach

  • Karlijn Van Den Broek

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


Energy conservation can mitigate significant issues such as climate change and fuel poverty, yet the determinants of this behaviour are poorly understood. It is important to understand the antecedents of energy conservation in order to effectively stimulate this behaviour in society. Traditional models have focused on normative and intentional processes to explain environmental behaviour, but have proven largely unsuccessful for predicting energy use. Considering that day-to-day energy behaviour is likely to be habitual and context dependent, models such as the Comprehensive Action Determination Model (CADM, Klöckner & Blöbaum, 2010), which have integrated these factors with more traditional antecedents of behaviour, may better account for people’s actions. The early research in this thesis tests the application of this model to energy saving behaviour using a mixed-methods approach. Findings show that such a model is suitable to account for the drivers of energy behaviour, particularly because of the important role of habits and situational influences on this behaviour. Although this model can successfully predict daily energy behaviours that involve the routine curtailment of household energy use, one-off energy efficiency investment behaviours are unlikely to be determined by the variables considered by the CADM. That is, these behaviours may be more dependent on people’s understanding of the energy consumption in their household, or their energy literacy. Therefore, the second part of this thesis investigates the cognitive processes that inform conscious energy judgements to explore the antecedents of this energy literacy. The studies in this thesis uncover an unprecedented variety of energy judgement heuristics in this decision-making process, and these heuristics are further investigated, again using various methods. This thesis concludes that, to maximally facilitate energy conservation, the habitual and situational antecedents of energy saving behaviour, as captured in such frameworks as the CADM, need to be considered alongside the cognitive processes that shape people’s energy literacy when designing effective energy conservation interventions that target both routine and non-routine actions.
Date of Award12 Sept 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorIan Walker (Supervisor)


  • Energy literacy
  • Energy Use
  • Energy saving
  • mixed-methods

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