Energy-efficient, innovative housing: a comparison of probable adopters and nonadopters

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

The purpose of this research, based on classical diffusion of innovations theory, was to examine factors related to the probable adoption or nonadoption of energy-efficient housing alternatives, specifically passive and active solar and earth sheltered/underground dwellings. Three types of factors were examined: demographics (geographical location by state, type of household, stage in family life cycle, race, age, and educational level); energy (belief in the energy crisis, the impact of energy on housing decisions, efforts to reduce utility costs, average monthly utility costs, and the presence of energy-conserving features in the dwelling); and, local regulatory codes for building (the presence of housing alternatives in the locality, the presence of regulatory codes, and the prior need for variances in order to construct alternative forms of housing). The study utilized daca collected as part of a regional research project, S-141, Housing for Low- and Moderate-Income Families. Data from households were collected by means of an interview schedule using a random sample of 1804 households from four counties selected in each of seven southern states after stratification on the basis of income and the number of nonfarm households. Data from local building officials in the same counties were collected using mailed questionnaires. Techniques of analysis utilized included the chi-squared test, analysis of variance, analysis of covariance, the t-test, and discriminant analysis. Findings indicated that probable adopters of the housing alternatives were usually younger, had more education, were in the earlier stages of the family life cycle, believed in the energy crisis, believed the energy situation had impacted housing decisions, had attempted to reduce utility costs, and lived in houses with more energy-conserving features than probable nonadopters.