What Works and What Doesn’t? A Systematic Literature Review of Residential Energy Efficiency Programs in Advanced Economies

What Works and What Doesn’t? A Systematic Literature Review of Residential Energy Efficiency Programs in Advanced Economies


Ryan McAndrew, Rebekah Russell-Bennett, Rory Mulcahy and Ross Gordon

Organisation of Presenter:

Queensland University of Technology, Australia


Billions of dollars are spent worldwide on energy efficiency through a variety of strategies, such as educational and awareness campaigns, mass media television commercials and radio, community and school grants, weatherisation and home retrofits, gamification, subsidising energy efficient appliances and technologies through tax credits, deductions, cheap loan programs, and feed-in tariffs (Allcott & Greenstone, 2012). Despite the level of expenditure, there is wide debate about the effectiveness of these various strategies with conflicting evidence. There is therefore a need to identify the critical elements required for successful interventions that also allow for different goals, resources and customer segments. For example, some studies have indicated the importance of monetary or economic factors such as gains in energy savings, with environmental benefits found to be of little concern when making investment decisions (Aravena, Riquelme, & Denny, 2016). Whereas other studies have shown the motivation to change household energy efficiency behaviours to be more strongly influenced by pollution and subsequent health effect, than by cost savings (Asensio & Delmas, 2015). Moreover, some studies have shown evidence of bodily comfort in energy usage decision making, as well as security and wellbeing being important factors (Shove and Walker, 2014).
This research seeks to determine the elements needed to achieve the goals of residential energy efficiency interventions (knowledge, attitudes, or behaviour). Following the systematic literature review process outlined in Sorrel (2007), all relevant qualitative and quantitative studies were collated and results examined to identify key success criteria and policy implications. The intervention elements to be examined include intervention goals and outcomes, study design, tools and technologies used and sample characteristics. This research focuses on direct energy usage, specifically electricity and gas usage, within the residential sector in advanced economies. The exclusion criteria include: papers not in English; papers only detailing formative, methodological, or conceptual work; papers examining industrial energy usage; and papers only looking at indirect household energy usage. Peer reviewed and grey literature across seven databases in social sciences, health, engineering and sciences were searched following the Cochrane and Prisma protocols, this included inter coder reliability checks, which will be presented.