Our social relations shape our decision-making in surprising ways. Here’s what that means for home retrofit policy.

Sussex Energy Group members Donal Brown, Giulia Mininni and Marie Claire Brisbois, are among the co-authors of a fascinating a new paper out in Energy Research and Social Science

Over the last few decades, the UK has tried various things to encourage people to upgrade their homes to make them more energy efficient (and lower their energy bills). These haven’t worked the way policymakers hoped. 

This paper presents an interesting new explanation of why this might be — which could improve the success rate of future retrofit policies.  It argues that our limited success stems from an overly simplistic assumption of how people make decisions about things like home improvements.

Energy retrofit policies tend to assume a straightforward rational choice model of decison-making. In other words, they assume we generally decide by weighing up the pros and cons of the various options. 

This paper argues that, on the contrary, people take a relational approach to these decisions. This means that energy decisions are deeply embedded in a complex web of social relations and interactions. What we decide, ultimately, depends on those relationships more than it does our assessment of the pros and cons.

Policies that recognise and facilitate these social dynamics could lead to better energy retrofit outcomes. Read the paper here.

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Posted in All Posts, Energy demand and behaviour, Energy efficiency and energy security, Retrofitting buildings, The social relations of energy

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The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the individual authors and do not represent Sussex Energy Group.

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