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Indoor Thermal Comfort: The Behavioral Component

Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute
Publication Date
  • Space Conditioning
  • Space Warming
  • Air Conditioning
  • Thermostats
  • Indoor Temperatures
  • Energy Behavior Policy
  • Temperature Setbacks
  • Communication


This is a study of how indoor temperature settings have changed over time in the United States based on data from the Energy Information Administration’s, Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS). It is shown that Americans have moderately raised indoor temperature settings during the heating season over the past thirty years. It is also shown that most Americans keep their homes relatively cool in the summertime and are generally averse to implementing temperature setbacks. It is revealed that occupants in lower-income homes tend to set their thermostats higher in winter than other income groups, but that the most intense cooling tends to take place in both low-income and high-income homes. As expected, renters tend to heat and cool more intensively than homeowners. Getting Americans to change their temperature settings in order to save energy is not easy even though it comes with the promise of financial savings. The use of programmable thermostats thus far has proved unsuccessful. Greater utilization of social marketing to achieve energy savings is suggested, as well as a renewed effort on the part of electricity suppliers to work more closely with homeowners as part of the rollout of the “smart grid”.

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