Feasibility of substantial greenhouse gas emission reductions by households

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First, this chapter presented an accounting for the total household energy requirement. These accounts demonstrated that a substantial portion of Dutch energy consumption should be allocated to households. The previous section described and discussed some trends that led to a substantial increase in household energy requirements in the decades after the Second World War. Substantial reductions are also required within households to meet the long-term emission targets for greenhouse gases. Based on this notion, several research programmes have been carried out to assess the potential for reduction of energy use and/or greenhouse gas emissions through changes in households. We will discuss four of these studies: the Perspective project, the GreenHouse programme, the HOMES programme and the Sushouse programme. These studies adopted an integrated approach, addressing the (macro-level) relationships between sectors and the relationship between production and consumption.

Several investigations identify options to reduce the household energy requirements and the related greenhouse gas emissions using the distinction between direct and indirect energy requirement.

The direct energy requirements of households can be reduced along two lines. The first line, a technological line, is directed at technological improvement of household appliances (low-energy refrigerators, high-efficiency heaters and boilers), improvement of the physical infrastructure (increasing efficiency in electricity production, reducing the need for physical transport), and investments to save on fossil energy (insulation of dwellings, use of waste-heat sources, use of renewable energy). The second line, a behavioural line, is directed at bringing about changes in household behaviour leading to reduced use of appliances and lighting, lower temperatures in space heating and water heating (for clothes washing), and in possession of fewer appliances.

The indirect energy requirements of households can be reduced along the same lines. The technological line is targeted at improving energy efficiency and saving fossil energy in the production and trade sectors; the behavioural line is aimed at changing the consumption pattern into a low energy-intensity pattern, such as buying green products, buying products with a low energy intensity and substitution between spending categories.

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