Psychology : the most important research questions about the energy efficiency

The roles of academic psychology in climate change perspectives have been described in various articles. Among the most important of them is the Dreyer et al’s publication (1). They highlighted the food-energy-water nexus as central component of human life, and a priority for our current and studies. However, it is relatively hard to identify priorities for each component. I found a set of good papers on food research priorities in psychology. (I will contact some researchers for the water question)

A social sciences and humanities-focused research agenda has been developed (horizon scanning method) by questioning more than 150 researchers from 23 countries (2). Authors listed 100 research questions splitted in 7 domains.

I subjectively selected the research questions for the academic psychology communities (community, organizational, health, social psychology). Also, I recommend the Introduction subsection : ‘Evolution of social sciences and humanities research on energy efficiency’. It is important to note that these recommendations are more adapted for high incomes countries.

“Theme 1: Citizenship, engagement and knowledge exchange in relation to energy efficiency

  • What are the challenges to mobilising collective action around energy efficiency and sufficiency (e.g., convincing private apartment owners to undertake collective refurbishments); and what learnings on addressing these can be drawn from exemplars?
  • Which organisations and individuals play important roles in the diffusion of energy efficiency measures to homes and businesses; and how do these diffusion processes operate (e.g., through developments in leadership, social norms and skills)?
  • How can policies and public programmes aiming to increase energy efficiency, via citizen engagement, go beyond individualistic models of behaviour; and how can a social practice framing result in different types of programmes?

Theme 2: Energy efficiency in relation to equity, justice, poverty and vulnerability

  • What are the major barriers and enablers of installing energy efficiency measures among different socio-demographic and socio-economic groups; and what are the implications for designing policies that ensure energy efficiency is accessible to all?
  • How do energy efficiency policies affect vulnerable groups with higher energy consumption needs (e.g., elderly, disabled); and how can policies ensure that such ‘energy vulnerable’ citizens benefit from energy efficiency solutions?
  • What are the short-, medium- and long-term effects of domestic energy efficiency improvements on the mental and physical health of people living in energy poverty?

Theme 3: Energy efficiency in relation to everyday life and practices of energy consumption and production.

  • What unanticipated challenges and poor outcomes arise from a lack of ‘fit’ between new initiatives or technologies with everyday lives and practices; and how can these be addressed?
  • What are the roles of personal, cultural and site-specific factors in the success or failure of energy efficiency initiatives?
  • How can participatory design and co-creation approaches contribute to the development of energy efficiency solutions that work with, rather than against, practices in everyday settings?
  • How is thermal comfort perception related to physiological, psychological and social influences; and how could understanding of these relationships help to improve energy efficiency and reduce energy consumption in everyday life?
  • What are the conditions that facilitate the acceptance and pursuit of energy sufficiency (e.g., living in smaller spaces, avoiding mobility, reducing consumption) over energy efficiency; and how can these conditions be scaled-up across society?

Theme 6: Roles of economic systems, supply chains and financial mechanisms in improving energy efficiency

  • Given that a large proportion of intentions to invest in energy efficiency measures (in existing buildings) are never carried out or are substantially delayed, how can Social Sciences and Humanities improve understandings of this implementation gap?

Theme 7: The interactions, unintended consequences and rebound effects of energy efficiency interventions.

  • How can various ‘rebound effects’ or unintended consequences resulting from increasing energy efficiency be minimised through technological design, new policies, alignment with particular contextual conditions, or even the formulation of alternative approaches to reducing energy demand?
  • How can Social Sciences and Humanities contribute to better qualifying and quantifying the non-energy-related benefits of energy efficiency; and how can this be translated into better Monitoring and Evaluation tools for policymakers?
  • What are the relationships between energy efficiency and healthy and productive indoor environments; and how can human-building interactions be improved to optimise all these outcomes?
  • What are the relationships between energy efficiency, energy demand and human well-being; and what roles could energy efficiency and energy sufficiency play in policy interventions to tackle inequalities in well-being?”

1. Dreyer SJ, Kurz T, Prosser AMB, Abrash Walton A, Dennings K, McNeill I, et al. Towards a Psychology of the Food-Energy-Water Nexus: Costs and Opportunities. Journal of Social Issues. 2020;76(1):136‑49.

2. Foulds C, Royston S, Berker T, Nakopoulou E, Bharucha ZP, Robison R, et al. An agenda for future Social Sciences and Humanities research on energy efficiency: 100 priority research questions. Humanit Soc Sci Commun. 30 juin 2022;9(1):1‑18.

Cite this blog post
Bernard Paquito (2022, July 12). Psychology : the most important research questions about the energy efficiency. AVUER. Retrieved May 25, 2024, from

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