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Information framing of the Flemish Energy Performance Certificate: A proposal for experimental studies

Book Contribution - Book Chapter Conference Contribution

The energy performance certificate (EPC) is an information provision tool that enables prospective buyers and renters to compare dwellings in terms of energy performance. Besides, the EPC encourages the uptake of the recommended energy efficient renovation measures. Therefore, in order to be effective, dwellers have to able to understand and interpret correctly the two key elements of the certificate: the energy performance indicator and the recommendations. Previous research regarding the EPC scheme assumed that dwellers are able to process the technical information of the certificate in a rational way, whereas literature review on experiments regarding information framings in energy related contexts shows that consumers interpret in a heuristic way the information regarding energy consumption and energy efficiency of appliances and vehicles. Our research hypothesis is that the framing of the information plays an important role for the efficiency of the EPC, alongside calculation method and quality assurance. The present paper presents proposals for experimental studies that verify the following clues from our previous qualitative analysis. Firstly, it will be investigated whether the energy indicator of the Flemish EPC reflects properly the energy performance of a dwelling in comparison with the rest of the building stock. Findings from a focus group with experts suggest a possible over-optimism in assessing the energy performance of one’s dwelling. Secondly, our experiments aim to verify whether dwellers process the information in a rational way or if they are influenced by biases. The comparative analysis of nine European EPCs have revealed a wide range of possible ways of framing the information of the energy indicator and the recommendations. Many include nudges such as anchoring, social norm, salience and discounting the future. No information framing is neutral and the information on the EPC can be subject to heuristic interpretation even if nudging is not the purpose.
Book: 4th Doctoral Seminar on Sustainability Research in the Built Environment: Book of Abstracts
Number of pages: 10
Publication year:2017
Keywords:energy performance certificate, heuristic thinking, experiments