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The role of social capital and housing-related lifestyle in energy-efficient housing retrofits

The role of social capital and housing-related lifestyle in energy-efficient housing retrofits

Authors: Ivana Jovović, prof. dr. Andreja Cirman, prof. dr. Nevenka Hrovatin, prof. dr. Jelena Zorič

Most studies in the field have established the considerable potential for cost-efficient energy savings in households that can be realised through energy-efficient retrofits, the right choice of heating system, energy-efficient behaviours and other measures. Nevertheless, energy-saving potentials remain largely unexploited, with the academic literature referring to the gap between optimal and actual consumption as the ‘energy-efficiency gap.’ To achieve the goal of a climate-neutral European Union by 2050, the gap in the residential sector will have to be eliminated, which is a major challenge.

This study contributes to the literature on the energy-efficiency gap by examining the new influential factors of retrofitting decision-making and energy-efficient behaviours: social capital and housing-related lifestyles. The results of the study show that, in Slovenian households, the socio-demographic and economic characteristics of decision-makers and the characteristics of building and location do not suffice on their own to explain decisions on whether to undertake energy-efficient retrofits. The findings of the econometric analysis using the retrospective panel data model indicate that housing-related lifestyle has a positive impact, particularly energy-saving behaviour and a proclivity for ‘do-it-yourself’ home maintenance and repairs. It also confirms the positive impact of social capital, particularly ease of agreement among residents and the formal organisation of the building. Income, age of the respondent, age of the dwelling, previous renovations and the availability of subsidies are also important drivers of energy-efficient retrofits, while high regional temperatures and negative economic growth are barriers to energy-efficient retrofits. The results of the study therefore highlight the need for a policy mix involving education and information campaigns, subsidies for energy-efficient retrofits, and measures that promote better formal organisation of buildings and the construction of community. Implementation of these recommendations would improve decision-making, and contribute to the achievement of energy-efficiency and sustainable development targets in households.

Source: https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/just_thinking_about_cooperation_can_make_you_less_prejudiced

Source: Jovović, I., Cirman, A., Hrovatin, N., Zorić, J. (2023), Do social capital and housing-related lifestyle foster energy-efficient retrofits? Retrospective panel data evidence from Slovenia. Energy Policy, 69(113651). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.enpol.2023.113651