243.6 We couldn't live without it – Youth representations, beliefs and practices about energy consumption

Thursday, August 2, 2012: 12:00 PM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Ana HORTA , Institute of Social Sciences University of Lisbon, Portugal
Luísa SCHMIDT , Institute of Social Sciences University of Lisbon , Portugal
Augusta CORREIA , Institute of Social Sciences University of Lisbon , Portugal
Susana FONSECA , Institute of Social Sciences University of Lisbon , Portugal
Margarida REBELO , National Laboratory of Civil Engineering, Portugal
Marluci MENEZES , National Laboratory of Civil Engineering, Portugal
It’s increasingly clear that behaviour has a fundamental role in energy efficiency. The representations, beliefs and values ​​are translated into behaviours that affect how individuals position themselves in relation to energy consumption. Given that this is one of the most serious problems affecting the living conditions of millions of people and compromise future generations, it’s essential to promote behavioural changes, especially among young people for themselves and for the influence they have on their families. This paper presents part of the results of a larger study which aims to assess the practices and representations of the individuals’ energy consumption and to implement an intervention plan at the schools to increase energy efficiency.  A key objective of this project is also to analyze what impact the intervention done in schools will have on the families’ energy consumption.

The results, based on the analysis of a survey to 731 students of a school in Lisbon and 300 households, have identified significant differences in gender, level of education and social class. Even though men show more knowledge about energy, women show more concern about the need to reduce consumption. Nevertheless, we find that women are more exposed to information about saving energy. While men tend to associate more energy with science and technology, women show a more traditional approach, very focused on electricity consumption. 

In what concerns social class, we conclude that individuals from the middle class (Class B) have more knowledge about energy issues. The data also show a strong representation of renewable energy as one of the solutions, or even the only solution, to the problem of excessive energy consumption.  The reduction of energy use as a way to save money is the main reason that people evoke to reduce consumption in context of economical crisis while energy prices are increasing.