Adaptive comfort behaviours in Australian households

Adaptive comfort behaviours in Australian households


Jungsoo Kim, Richard de Dear, Thomas Parkinson and Christhina Candido

Organisation of Presenter:

The University of Sydney, Australia


The energy consumption in the residential sector is known to be one of the greatest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions in Australia. Given the diverse activities within, and high levels of personal control over the indoor environment, occupants’ behaviour is deemed to be one of the key uncertainties in predicting energy use in the residential sector. Therefore the role of occupants is crucial as energy consumption within households can significantly be attributed to their behaviour. With an aim to better understand residential adaptive comfort behaviours, longitudinal field observations were conducted with smartphone surveys and simultaneous temperature measurements in a sample of Australian homes (n=42). Based on the self-reported behavioural data matched with the concurrent climatic observations, this study derives statistical models to enable predicting of the percentage of adaptive strategies in use (e.g. operation of air-conditioners, heaters, fans and windows) as a function of outdoor temperature. The analysis of the results indicated: (1) Among various methods of environmental modifications, operating windows or doors was the most commonly observed adaptive behaviour in this sample of households; (2) An outdoor temperature of approximately 21 and 28°C were found to be the thresholds corresponding to the percentage of householders relying on mechanical heating and cooling respectively being below 20%; (3) An outdoor temperature of 25°C was the most favourable condition, maximising the use of natural ventilation and simultaneously minimising the householders’ dependence on their home air-conditioning system. The findings from the current study can be used to inform appropriate occupancy behaviour schedules to allow building simulation tools to perform more realistic, and therefore more accurate housing energy assessments.