UCL Energy Institute


Moving beyond the average: examining energy distributions of home energy use


21 September 2011

Whilst many studies have examined average household energy consumption according to various human dimension factors, there are very few which consider the whole distribution of energy consumption on an aggregated scale. Probability distributions are useful for their explication of diversity, asymmetry and the extremes represented in the tails. Many distributions of energy-related data in buildings are asymmetrical, which means they are skewed towards one direction, e.g. towards high-energy users. Changes in the asymmetry over time reflect changes in the wide range of factors influencing energy consumption. Accordingly, this research examines new cross-sectional data of English home energy use and human dimensions in order to understand this diversity and explore the importance of asymmetry. The preliminary findings indicate a need for further investigation of socio-technical elements of household energy use which will provide insight from the analysis of diversity. This approach challenges the conventional use of 'average' values in energy modelling and policy formation, which should lead to better understanding of the drivers of change in home energy use and offer value foresight for policymakers and practitioners.

Moving beyond the average: examining energy distributions of home energy use. In: (Proceedings) UKERC Energy and People: Futures, complexity and challenges conference. 

McMichael, M; Shipworth, D; Shipworth, M; (2011) 

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