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The energy-saving potential of social housing tenants in the context of a thermal retrofit

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Last Updated: 2-2016

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The Dutch social housing sector needs to decrease its energy consumption. Housing associations invest in thermal retrofits, to reach a lower energy index and energy saving for the tenants. The theoretical energy saving is often larger than the actual energy saving. Charging a rent increase based on the theoretical energy saving is disadvantageous for the tenants. This research focuses on how the energy-saving potential of social housing tenants in the context of a thermal retrofit can be improved.
Seven Dutch social housing retrofits are analyzed on three different aspects. First, the calculated energy savings are compared to the actual energy savings. Results show that these tenants miss out on 10,7% of energy savings. This is partly caused by the “prebound” effect, which can be corrected by the calculation. The energy saving gap that remains has a potential to be reduced by energy saving behavior. The current retrofit process focuses on convincing tenants to participate in the retrofit. The influence that tenant’ behavior can have on the calculated energy saving is barely explained. Based on the literature and interviews, five promising intervention strategies to stimulate energy saving behavior after the thermal retrofit are found.
A questionnaire was send to the tenants, including a discrete choice experiment to derive the preferences of the tenants towards the proposed intervention strategies. Results show that individual intervention strategies are preferred over collective strategies. A brochure with simple and tailored instructions on the energy systems is preferred the most.
The results show mismatches between the three researched aspects of a retrofit. Reducing these mismatches will lead to a higher energy-saving potential for the tenants. Housing associations need to monitor the energy consumption of their housing stock, this leads to more insight in the effectiveness of the investment and a fairer rent increase. The communication between the housing association and the tenant can be improved by focusing more on explaining the influence of household behavior, using the retrofit as starting point for intervention strategies aimed at changing this behavior and provide clear instructions about the energy systems installed at the retrofit.

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