Exploring socioeconomic and temporal characteristics of British and German residential energy demand

Russell McKenna, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology

The British and German residential sectors account for similar fractions of national energy demand and carbon emissions. But they also exhibit underlying differences in the building stock, fuel split, tenure and household behaviour. Notable are dissimilarities in the age, size and spatial distribution of residential buildings, for example, as well as the German prevalence of renting, compared to British aspirations to climb the “property ladder”. The temporal habits in British and German households are also quite different, which is challenging to measure due to the paucity of German smart meter data.

This contribution takes this background as a starting point to explore some of the temporal and socioeconomic characteristics of residential energy demand in Britain and Germany, by combining three main areas of work. Firstly, an overview of existing research into the socioeconomic and temporal characteristics residential energy demand is given, with a particular focus on employing time-use and smart meter data to this end. Secondly, the wealth of smart meter data available in the UK is employed to provide insights into the habits and profiles of residential energy demand. This analysis is based partly on existing studies and partly on new research by the author, employing several of these datasets. Thirdly, an analysis and comparison of the time-use data for British and German households provides insights into the temporal nature of their behaviour, and thus energy demand.

The findings from this contribution include new insights into socioeconomic and temporal characteristics of residential energy demand in these two countries. As well as providing an overview of existing research, original statistical analysis of smart meter data will enable a deeper understanding of the nature of energy use in these residential sectors. Many studies are only able to explain around half of the variation in residential energy consumption, but in some cases the models developed in this paper surpass those in the literature, whilst still leaving room for improvement. A comparison of the two countries in terms of their electrical load profiles will enable a deeper understanding of the actual, as opposed to standardized, load profile. Finally, an outlook over potential future avenues for research in order to gain better understanding into residential energy use will be given.

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