Domestic gas consumption, household behaviour patterns, and window opening
Domestic gas consumption for central heating is a function both of the efficiency of the heating system and the way in which it is used. While many studies have concentrated on the performance of systems and their controls, there have been few studies of occupant behaviour. The thesis therefore studies household behaviour patterns relating to domestic gas consumption. There are two main aims: firstly, to study a variety of these patterns and, secondly, to make a detailed investigation of one particular behaviour pattern, namely window opening. These two studies centre on 113 households on two local authority estates, where all the dwellings are of similar construction. The first study makes use of two main data sources: quarterly gas consumption readings and data obtained from an in-depth interview with each head of household. It identifies a variety of behaviour patterns and their underlying motivations. Additionally, this study shows that design heat loss and terrace position account for less than a third of the variance in winter consumption. A regression analysis using only behavioural and social variables resulted in a similar proportion of variance being explained. These two sets of independent variables could not justifiably be combined due to their inter-correlations. In conclusion, it was suggested that consumption may not be determined by a few variables of major significance but rather by a large number of inter-acting variables each with a small influence on consumption. The second study, window opening, makes use of three data sources: a series of systematic window observations, meteorological data and data obtained from postal questionnaires. The study identifies the objective correlates of estate-wide window opening, as well as the subjective motivations for the opening and closing of windows. It highlights the wide range of variation in window opening amongst householders. In addition, the study indicates that householders adopt characteristic window opening patterns which they can reliably report.