Consumer Behavior and Energy Policy: An International Perspective

By Eric Monnier; George Gaskell et al. | Go to book overview

correspond to one-time investments of around £400 and £700, respectively. Clearly people are prepared to pay more for comfort improvements than they are for energy savings. This suggests that, for the affluent sample, the main motivation for energy efficiency investments is improving comfort levels and that savings in fuel bills are somewhat less important. This is borne out by other findings from the questionnaire--g., the main reason given for installing insulation in their homes was comfort and 87 percent agreed that "being warm and comfortable was more important than lower fuel bills."

Rather than treating the grant of 25 percent as a cash rebate whose money value would vary with the initial capital outlay, respondents treated the grant as an overall figure covering the range of investments. This suggests that grants, at least for well-to-do people in the higher socioeconomical categories, are in financial terms not very important, but may act as a nonfinancial incentive by indicating that the investment must be worthwhile if the government is willing to subsidize it. To put it another way, grants may function to validate decisions rather than reduce costs.

While there is little distinction in reaction to capital outlay and energy savings, females are far more interested in comfort than males. For some improvements in comfort, women will pay an additional £108 per year in running cost and for a substantial improvement in comfort, £268, whereas the respective figures for males are £51 and £175. Females also attach greater importance to the availability of a grant of £150 in comparison with £76.

In the survey we found that 55 percent of couples say they do not agree about temperatures, and in 80 percent of these cases of disagreement, women were said, by both men and women, to prefer a higher temperature. At the same time, in the majority of cases it was found that the person who prefers the higher temperature actually chooses the thermostat setting.

The conclusion of these analyses is that women could be more effectively targeted by a focus on the resulting comfort improvements from energy-saving investments. Equally, of course, husbands could be persuaded to cater to their wives' preference for higher temperatures by making energy-saving investments to improve efficiency.


CONCLUSION

Overall, these analyses suggest that for well-to-do consumers a major consideration in their decisions about

-332-

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