Energy-efficient housing alternatives: a predictive model of factors affecting household perceptions

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


The major purpose of this investigation was to assess the impact of household socio-economic factors, dwelling characteristics, energy conservation behavior, and energy attitude on the perceptions of energy-efficient housing alternatives. Perceptions of passive solar, active solar, earth- sheltered, and retrofitted housing were examined.

Data used were from the Southern Regional Research Project, S-141, "Housing for Low and Moderate Income Families." Responses from 1804 households living in seven southern states were analyzed. A conceptual model was proposed to test the hypothesized relationships which were examined by path analysis.

Perceptions of energy-efficient housing alternatives were found to be a function of selected household and dwelling characteristics, energy attitude; household economic factors, and household conservation behavior. Age and education of the respondent, family size, housing-income ratio, utility-income ratio, energy attitude, and size of the dwelling unit were found to have direct and indirect effects on perceptions of energy-efficient housing alternatives. Energy conservation behavior made a significant direct impact with behavioral energy conservation changes having the most profound influence.

Conservation behavior was influenced by selected household and dwelling characteristics, energy attitude, and household economic factors. Significant effects were found between conservation efforts and age, size, and condition of the housing unit, age and education of respondent, family size, and energy attitude.

Household economic factors were directly affected by selected household and dwelling characteristics. Age and education of respondent and age and condition of dwelling had significant effects on the proportion of monthly income spent for housing and utilities.