Heating, the richest are also those who achieve the least energy savings

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Heat wave, forest fires, war in Ukraine… After a summer of 2022 marked by intense energy news, it’s time to ask ourselves what actions we need to take to tackle climate change. In this sense, the Laboratory of Global Inequalities points out that: “the richest 10% are responsible for 48% of all global greenhouse gas emissions, while the poorest 50% are only responsible for 12% of the total . Faced with this observation and the approaching winter, we can therefore ask ourselves about the consumption behavior of the wealthiest households, while in recent weeks a controversy has already erupted over the use of private jets . Between 8% and 10% more If we rely on an abundant economic literature, we tend to find a positive relationship between the level of income and energy consumption. This positive relationship can be associated with several phenomena, ranging from the increase in the comfort temperature in winter to the purchase of new equipment that consumes electricity. For example, studies have shown that a declared preference for thermal comfort could lead to an increase in energy consumption between 8% and 10% according to different estimates. Thus, the level of income could be seen as an indicator to evaluate a particular level of comfort and rate of equipment.

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In addition, wealthier households, who often live in recent single-family homes and can adjust their heating temperature, tend to use more than their energy efficiency diagnosis indicates, as we noted in a research paper published in 2021. By deepening this relationship between income level and the weight of energy consumption (based on recent French data collected as part of the PEPSI research project), we find that those who declare a preference for comfort thermal instead of saving energy earn 7,965 euros more per year than the average household. . Equipment rate increases If we look in more detail at the relationship between the average winter heating temperature in living rooms and income level (Figure 1), we see that households that heat below of 19 °C earn relatively less than homes that can maintain an adequate temperature. The same goes for those that heat above 25°C, but these sometimes cannot adjust their temperature (in general, households that cannot adjust their heating temperature live in older homes and charge 4016 euros less per year). Also, among households that heat below 19°C in winter, more than three-quarters say they are restricted. In addition, if we take into account that households that live in homes with the best energy label (and therefore need less energy for heating), classified A, have an average income 13,000 euros higher than those who live in homes classified G, we also observe that wealthier households spend much more on electricity and heating bills, which seems to reaffirm a proven preference for thermal comfort and the use of electrical appliances (Figure 2). After “the second hottest summer observed in France since at least 1900 with a difference of +2.3°C from the 1991-2020 average” in 2022 according to Météo France, we can therefore ask ourselves on the evolution of the electricity expenditure of French households in the years to come. In fact, in general, the rate of household equipment with a cooling system has increased since 2020. This is especially the case of owner households (75% of owners of cooling systems in 2020), often business owners, self-employed or executives and residents in single-family homes. homes that maintain this increase (60%). Now this trend is likely to increase if we want to be able to guarantee everyone’s thermal comfort and well-being. Therefore, it will be more than necessary to find long-lasting solutions to guarantee thermal comfort in winter and summer, taking care not to create unevenness. If technological innovations are likely to limit the weight of consumption on the climate, a solution also consists in continuing efforts to improve the energy efficiency of buildings while ensuring that wealthier households are informed of the weight of their consumption on the weather .
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