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Towards understanding the determinants of household energy use: exploring the role of individual, household, social, and physical characteristics on household electricity and gas use

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posted on 22.05.2021, 10:46 by Runa Das
This research is an investigation of people and their relationship with energy. This dissertation first presents an analysis of national surveys: Statistics Canada‘s 2013 Households and the Environment Survey and the 2013 Energy Use Supplement. These surveys were used to investigate the relationships between dwelling characteristics, household characteristics, electricity use, and natural gas use. Approximately 20% of the variance in overall energy use was explained by dwelling and household characteristics, leaving a large portion of the variance unaccounted for. It was also found that household characteristics have more impact on electricity use than natural gas use. In contrast, dwelling characteristics have more impact on natural gas use than on electricity use. In order to better gauge the unexplained variation in household energy use, an instrument was developed to measure public energy literacy, which was conceptualized using previous surveys as well as frameworks and models from academic and grey literature, as well as literacy and educational initiatives and programs. Such conceptualization created the parameters within which survey items could be developed, created, and therefore generated. Instrument development included pretesting, cognitive interviews, and quantitative and qualitative analysis of instrument items. The resulting survey is a 15-item, 5-item, and 9-item measure of energy-related knowledge, attitudes, and behaviours, respectively. Energy literacy, along with environmental concern, was assessed among a sample of Toronto homeowners. In general, participants demonstrated environmental concern, positive attitudes, performed energy-saving behaviours and demonstrated satisfactory understanding of energy-related knowledge (i.e., average score of 66 percent). Interesting relationships were found between the measures of energy literacy as well as some additional measures of knowledge and behaviour, suggesting that examination of energy use should be broken down into smaller examinable components, such as curtailment and efficiency behaviours. The attitudinal and behavioural subscales belonging to the measure of energy literacy added to the explanation of household energy use in the Toronto sample: for electricity 11% of the variation was explained and 4% for natural gas. Surveys and examination of household energy use need to therefore consider examining energy literacy variables in addition to socio-demographics and dwelling characteristics.





Doctor of Philosophy


Environmental Applied Science and Management

Granting Institution

Ryerson University

LAC Thesis Type