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Decarbonizing household heating: Reviewing demographics, geography and low-carbon practices and preferences in five European countries

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  • Benjamin K. Sovacool
  • Luisa F. Cabeza, University of Lleida
  • ,
  • Anna Laura Pisello, University of Perugia
  • ,
  • Andrea Fronzetti Colladon, University of Perugia
  • ,
  • Hatef Madani Larijani, Royal Institute of Technology
  • ,
  • Belal Dawoud, Faculty of Mechanical Engineering
  • ,
  • Mari Martiskainen, University of Sussex

What commonalities are there in sustainable or unsustainable heating practices in five high-income, high-emitting western European countries? What preferences do a nationally representative sample of the public in these countries hold towards low-carbon options? It is imperative that climate policy researchers and practitioners grapple with the difficulty of decarbonizing heat, which remains the largest single end-use service worldwide and which accounts about half of total final energy consumption. Based on a comparative assessment of five representative national surveys in Germany (N = 2009), Italy (N = 2039), Spain (N = 2038), Sweden (N = 2023), and the United Kingdom (N = 2000), this study explores the demographics and geography of household heat decarbonisation in Europe. By analyzing our country level data as well as our combined sample of 10,109 respondents, it investigates how people conceive of the purposes of low-carbon heat, their preferences for particular forms of heat supply, and their (at times odd) practices of heat consumption and temperature settings. Grounded in its original data, the study organizes its findings inductively across the five themes of literacy (heating knowledge, awareness and control), sustainability (heating practices, dynamics and conflicts), temperature (heating satisfaction and preferences), desirability of change (low-carbon heating priorities, business models and trust), and culture (country and national variation). The study also explores intersections between these dimensions, using multivariate analysis, as well as how preferences differ according to varying types of actors as well as geography and space.

Original languageEnglish
Article number110703
JournalRenewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews
Number of pages28
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021

    Research areas

  • Climate policy, Cooling, Energy policy, Heat decarbonisation, Household heat, Low-carbon heating, Space heating

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