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Real-Life Energy Use in the UK - How Occupancy and Dwelling Characteristics Affect Domestic Electricity Use

Real-Life Energy Use in the UK - How Occupancy and Dwelling Characteristics Affect Domestic Electricity Use

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Real-life energy use in the UK: How occupancy and dwelling characteristicsaffect domestic electricity use
Yigzaw G. Yohanis
a,
*, Jayanta D. Mondol
a
, Alan Wright
a
, Brian Norton
b
a
School of the Built Environment, University of Ulster, Newtownabbey BT37 0QB, Northern Ireland, UK 
b
 Dublin Institute of Technology, Aungier Street, Dublin 1, Ireland 
Received 29 August 2006; received in revised form 7 September 2007; accepted 15 September 2007
Abstract
The patterns of electricity consumption were studied for 27 representative dwellings in Northern Ireland. The type of dwelling, its location,ownership and size, household appliances, attributes of the occupants including number of occupants, income, age and occupancy patterns havediffering but significant impacts on electricity consumption. A clear correlation was found between average annual electricity consumption andfloor area. The monthly consumption of detached houses is between 3.57 and 5.17 kWh m
À
2
; semi-detached between 3.44 and 4.59 kWh m
À
2
andterraced housesbetween 2.5and3.9 kWh m
À
2
.Theaveragewinterconsumptionexceededtheaveragesummerconsumptionby 1.59 kWh m
À
2
fordetached,by1.16 kWh m
À
2
forsemi-detachedandby1.78 kWh m
À
2
forterracedhouses.Thedifferenceintheannualdemandonthegridbetweendetached and terraced houses is between 24 and 30%. The electricity consumption per persondecreases as the number ofoccupants increases. Thisis particularly significant in large dwellings but smaller numbers of occupants.
#
2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Keywords:
Household energy; Electricity consumption; Occupancy; Dwelling characteristics
1. Introduction
Domestic energy consumption depends on the location,design and construction of a dwelling, and the specification of heatingsystemsandtheircontrols[1]togetherwiththeefficiencyof appliances[2]and the behaviour[3–13]and socio- demographical characteristics of occupants[8]. Total domesticenergy consumption can be reduced by 10–30% by changingoccupants’ behaviour alone[4,8]. Residential energy consump-tionalsodepends onthecompositionandintensityofenergyuse[12]. Dwelling size, family size, climate, appliance ownership,lifestyleandbehaviourdefinetasksforwhichenergyisused[12].Therefore, the electrical energy demandof a household canvaryeach hour of every day, weekdays and weekends, and fordifferent months of the year. The adoption of energy savingmeasures is determined largely by income[10]: a low-incomeconsumer can invest only where the payback period is short;whereas a high-income consumer is able to accept longerpayback periods. The number of occupants and their ageinfluences energy consumption, for example, households wherethere are no children or where couples work consumes lessenergy than a household with children or older people[9].In the UK it has been shown that energy consumption perperson has increased by 18% between 1970 and 2000[14]. InNorthern Ireland, appliance use and its impact on electricityconsumption[15]and overall electricity consumption havebeen studied[16]. As the results have been based on attitudesurvey investigations, they are therefore limited in their abilitydiscern the complex correlations between dwelling character-istics, occupancy behaviour and electricity consumption. Forthis study, direct measurements were taken over a 20-monthperiod in homes in diverse locations throughout NorthernIreland, encompassing a representative sample of types, agesand sizes of dwellings with occupants ranging in number,employment, income and ages. Over 200 homes wereconsidered to establish a sample of 27 homes that wouldadequately represent the population in Northern Ireland. Asupporting detailed survey of householders sought to obtain anunderstanding of appliance use and energy-related behaviour.
2. Selection of households
The 27 homes studied included city (53%), town (21%),village (13%)and country (13%)locations: 28%ofhomeswere
www.elsevier.com/locate/enbuild
 Available online at www.sciencedirect.com
Energy and Buildings 40 (2008) 1053–1059* Corresponding author. Tel.: +44 2890368025; fax: +44 2890368296.
E-mail address:
yg.yohanis@ulster.ac.uk (Y.G. Yohanis).0378-7788/$ – see front matter
#
2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.doi:10.1016/j.enbuild.2007.09.001
 
detached dwellings, 12% bungalows, 20% semi-detachedhomes and 26% terraced houses; the remaining 4% of homeswere apartments. Thirteen percent of the homes were less than15 years old, 25% between 15 and 30 years old, 33% between30 and 60 years old and 29% of houses were over 60 years old.Seventeen percent of houses had one occupant, 25% had twooccupants, 28% had three occupants, 17% had four occupantsand 13% had five or more than five occupants. The daytimeoccupancywasasfollows:41%hadno occupants,27% hadoneoccupant, 23% had two occupants and 9% had three occupants.Of ‘primary occupants’(i.e. those persons who wereinterviewed) 74% were employed, 17% were retired and 9%were unemployed. Furthermore, 52% of occupants (i.e. alloccupants including ‘primary occupants’’) were employed,13% were retired, 4% were unemployed, 21% were childrenand 10% were in ‘othercategory (students, home-makers,etc.).Household income varied from 13% earning less than£10,000 per annum, 13% earning between £10,000 and£20,000, 22% earning between £20,000 and £30,000 to 52%of householders’ combined total income exceeding £30,000.Six percent of ‘primary occupants’were younger than 30years old, 60% between 31 and 50 years old, 28% between51and 70 years old and the remaining 6% over 71 years old. Of all occupants 41% were less than 30 years of age, 36% between31and 50 years of age, 18% between 51and 70 years of age and5% of all occupants were older than 70 years old.In all the surveyed homes heating was provided by means of oil or natural gas fired boilers. Although these boilers useelectric powered burners, the electrical consumption of theseburners is very small and has not been considered in the study.About 50% of the surveyed homes use supplementary electricheaters, and 76% have electric showers. The other installationsin the surveyed houses which consume electricity are dividedbroadly into three categories: lighting, kitchen and entertain-ment. The lighting installations are as follows: 43% of households have halogen bulbs, 52% fluorescent tubes and95% standard bulbs (only 5% energy saving bulbs). Thekitchens are as follows: all households use electric cookers,microwave ovens; 90% have washing machines; 10% washer-driers, 52%, tumble driers, 52% dishwashers. Each householdhas at least one fridge or fridge-freezer and 50% of thehouseholds have also separated freezers. In terms of entertain-ment each home has on average 2.7 TV sets, 1.5 videorecorders, 1.4 DVD players, 1 stereo systems, 0.8 gamesconsoles and 1 computer.
3. Electricity measurement
Electricity measurements were made using a half-hour loadmeter installed in series with the normal utility meter in eachhome between December 2003 and February 2004. Each meterhad a mobile telephone unit that enabled remote downloadingof stored electricity average load in kW during half-hourperiods once every month until the end of September 2005.Remote access software was used to ‘connect with’ the mobileunits within the metering system and data was downloaded viamodems; data thus collected was transferred to text format foranalysis.The average electricity consumption was calculated byaveraging consumption for each day of the year. Average, baseand peak electricity consumptions were measured. Base-leveluse is electricity consumed when occupants are inactive, andpeak use shows the consumption at times of greatest activity.
4. Household energy use and floor area
Seasonal variations in monthly total electricity consumptionwere investigated. Where monthly data was available for morethan 1 year, the values were averaged to present a single year’sdata. A range of consumptions was observed in the monthlydata; some homes consumed more than 800 kWh in a month,others never exceeded 200 kWh in any month. Winterelectricity consumption was 25–90% more than that of summeruse.Dwellings in the UK can generally be divided into fourtypes: detached, semi-detached, terraced and bungalows.Generally, detached, semi-detached and terraced houses arecomprised of two floors; the lower floor comprises of kitchensand living areas and the upper floors, bedrooms and bathrooms.Bungalows have only one floor. Although these dwellings varyin size (i.e. floor area) and method of construction and finish,annual electricity consumption depends on size of dwelling interms of total floor area. Generally householders’ ability toafford larger property (i.e. larger floor area) is linked todisposable income. The latter means that householders willhave more electricity consuming appliances and use them moreextensively. The floor areas of the houses represented in thestudy are as follows:
<
90 m
2
, 40.7%; 90–115 m
2
, 29.6%; 116–165 m
2
, 18.5%; and
>
165 m
2
, 11.1%.Fig. 1shows averageannual electricity consumption for these houses as a function of floor area. The figure clearly shows the dependence of electricity consumption on floor area; this can be representedin the correlation in Eq.(1)
¼
49
 A
þ
233 (1)where
is average annual energy consumption (kWh) and
A
isfloor area (m
2
).
Fig. 1. Annual total electricity consumption as a function of floor area.
Y.G. Yohanis et al./Energy and Buildings 40 (2008) 1053–1059
1054
 
4.1. Monthly household energy use
Monthly electricity consumption normalised with respect tofloor area for detached houses and bungalows is shown inFig. 2a. Similar investigations were also carried out for semi-detached and terraced houses. Monthly consumption fordetached houses varies between 2.0 and 7.0 kWh m
À
2
andfor the majority of the houses the maximum consumption isabout 5 kWh m
À
2
. For semi-detached houses, monthly con-sumption varies between 2.0 and 5.0 kWh m
À
2
and for themajority of terraced houses the variation is between 1.0 and4.5 kWh m
À
2
. The variation in the average consumption foreach type of houses is between 2.5 and 5.0 kWh m
À
2
. Thisindicates the average consumption on a per m
2
basis is the sameirrespective of the type of house under consideration. For onedetached household in the study, the monthly consumptionvaries between 7.0 and 13.0 kWh m
À
2
. This household isowned by a single male but with lodgers who are post-graduateuniversity students. Whilst oil-based heating is ‘centrallycontrolled by the landlord, each lodger (who may be from a hotclimate background) may keep an electric heater in theirbedroom. Electricity consumption for cooking is also high aseach lodger uses the kitchen separately. The consumption of this household is approximately two to three times that of atypical household. This household is not considered typical.The average monthly consumption for each type of house isshown inFig. 2b. The average winter consumption exceededthe average summer consumption by 1.59 kWh m
À
2
fordetached houses, 1.16 kWh m
À
2
for semi-detached housesand 1.78 kWh m
À
2
for terraced houses. The monthly variationfor the average of all types of houses was 1.34 kWh m
À
2
. Themonthly consumption of detached houses varied between 3.57and 5.17 kWh m
À
2
; semi-detached houses between 3.44 and4.59 kWh m
À
2
and terraced houses between 2.5 and3.9 kWh m
À
2
. The difference in the demand on the gridbetween an average detached house and average terraced housein winter was 24% and in summer 30%. Whilst the ideal fromthe grid’s point of view is a constant load throughout the year, itis inevitable that the summer load is smaller due to increaseddaylight and heat and householders spending more time awayon vacation or outdoors (e.g. walking, barbecuing, etc.).
4.2. Impact of changing household appliances onelectricity use
Monthly average consumptions for 2004 and 2005 areshown inFig. 3. In 2005, 52% of the households involved in thestudy changed one household appliance (e.g. washing machine,freezer, etc.) to a more energy efficient type (i.e. higher energyrating, typically at least A-rating). Consumption in 2005 waslower than in 2004 for all house types except semi-detachedhouses; the variation in specific consumption (in terms of floorarea) between 2004 and 2005 being up to 7.5%. This level of reduction in household energy use is very significant; however,from the overall research it is not clear whether the factorbehind this reduction is the change to a more energy efficientappliance, it is quite possible that the discussion between theresearchers and the householders may have been effectiveintervention by way of ‘education’; this issue needs furtherresearch.
4.3. The influence of dwelling characteristics on household electricity use
Investigation of the average daily annual electricityconsumption per unit floor area shows that generally the loadprofiles have very similar shapes for all houses in the study;though the magnitude vary. Interestingly, the peaks andminimum demands on the grid happen at the same times:
Fig. 2. Monthly electricity consumption normalized with respect to floor areafor (a) detached houses and (b) average for all house types.Fig. 3. Average monthly consumption for each month in 2004 and 2005.
Y.G. Yohanis et al./Energy and Buildings 40 (2008) 1053–1059
1055

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