The Analysis of Energy Use in the Residential Sector: An Economist's View
Three decisive issues for research and policy are discussed in this paper: First, the limits of modeling: since energy consumption was deeply perturbed by the oil shocks of the 1970s and has not yet found a new equilibrium, the use of models based on estimates of past values of the variables must be very circumspect. Second, in evaluating the usefulness of energy conservation, it is necessary to take account of many aspects of the economic and social environment, which may differ profoundly from country to country. Third, the use of public interventions should be seen as a complement rather than as a substitute for the price mechanism.
All scientific disciplines must work on the basis of simplified schemes, which attempt to achieve a viable representation of reality but which also are not too complicated. This is the only way in which a quantitative account can be made of the numerous interdependencies existing between the various aspects of a given phenomenon. Systems analysis has become the basic espistemological tool in all sciences, but it must be remembered, like Monsieur Jourdain in Moliere's play "Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme" who used prose without