In April 1985 the Second International Conference on Consumer Behavior and Energy Policy 1 was held at Versailles, France. Three hundred and twenty participants from sixteen countries attended the conference at which both researchers and practitioners presented papers on the nontechnical barriers to efficient use of energy in the residential sector.
A key objective of research into residential energy use is contributing to the design and implementation of public policies and programs for the efficient use of energy. But if this is to be achieved research must be multidisciplinary, because consumers' actions are the result of many interrelated factors including their personal characteristics, the social and cultural context, the economics of energy, and the broader policy and regulator'y system. However, in the past these four issues have been studied in isolation by different social-scientific perspectives. While each perspective--be it economics, sociology, psychology, or policy analysis--has made much progress over the last ten years, it is increasingly clear that no one approach can formulate effective instruments to deal with the complex problem of promoting the rational use of energy.
Thus, for the first time, the conference brought together researchers from the major social-scientific disciplines concerned with consumer energy use. This book, which comprises a selection of papers presented at the conference, aims to stimulate policymaking that is informed by current research, and new research that seeks to cross the traditional disciplinary boundaries, in an attempt to. contribute to the practical problems confronted by policymakers.
The need for more sophisticated analytic approaches and better instruments of public policy is increasingly apparent. The situation in many countries suggests that the social and political climate for energy conservation has become less favorable. There are several reasons for this: consumer involvement has declined as the memory of the oil crises fades; confidence in energy conservation is eroding, due to the fact that results have not always reached expectations;