Browsing by Subject "households"

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  • Luomaniemi, Virve Kaarina (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    Behavior change can be seen as one cornerstone in transiting to more sustainable energy cultures. Various implemented behavioral intervention experiments have been popular and successful in creating behavioral change during and/or right after the intervention period, however follow-up research examining the persistence of changed behavior has been limited. The empirical material of this thesis builds on a set of data collected in a European research project ENERGISE. The analysis utilizes the data collected from two Finnish living lab experiments performed in 2018, focusing the examination on the closing interviews conducted by the research team and the participants’ self-reported practices in the follow-up survey three months after the intervention. The analysis examines the formation of new practices in relation to their persistence in everyday life. Answers to open questions presented in the follow-up survey are also examined in the analysis, to fuller the representation of events. The sample of the research is not enough to make comprehensive statistical generalizations, instead it gives interesting insight on the durability of the effects of one energy intervention. The research questions guiding this thesis are: How did household practices change when households participated in an intervention? How persistent are the observed changes in practices post-intervention? What contributes to the persistence of treatment effects? This examination observed persistence of behavioral change post-intervention. This examination suggests that these encouraging results may be supported by a number of different factors; the broad perspective of energy practices that the intervention designed on practice theory provided and the making of household routines visible to participants to question and experiment with. In addition, the intervention techniques used as making commitments, goal setting, social comparison elements and providing energy feedback, which corroborate with prior intervention follow-up studies that have noted the importance of a carefully thought intervention design with these techniques, to support creating permanent behavioral change. Intervention designs should also in-clude a longer-term evaluation and further study investigating the factors contributing to creating permanent change should be implemented.
  • Kajoskoski, Tuija (Helsingin yliopisto, 2019)
    Households account for a significant proportion of final energy consumption in Europe. Household energy consumption has been researched intensively and intervention studies aiming at changing energy behaviour have been popular. Previous intervention studies have mainly been concentrating on individual behaviour, and research analysing the role of contextual factors has been very limited. The aim of the thesis is to study the effects of geographical and cultural, material and institutional, and socioeconomic and demographic contexts on the outcomes of household energy use interventions. The data used in this thesis was collected in a European research project “ENERGISE”, in which interventions on two energy intensive household practices, space heating and laundry washing, were carried out. The data included 306 households from eight European countries: Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, Finland, Hungary, Ireland and the UK. The data was analysed using the following methods: one-way ANOVA, independent samples t-test, Pearson’s correlation, and multiple linear regression. The following independent variables were tested: country, building type, baseline consumption levels, education level, employment status, family size, and age. The analyses were conducted in two phases. In the first phase, the main effects of the independent variables were tested. In the second phase, multiple regression models were built based on the results from the first phase. The intervention outcomes differ between some of the geographical contexts. Temperatures are reduced the most in Switzerland, Germany and the Netherlands, and laundry cycles are reduced more in Denmark than in other countries during the interventions. Higher baseline consumption levels are connected to higher reductions in both household practices. Families with five or more persons reduce the room temperatures and laundry cycles less than smaller families. Households with contact person aged 55-64 reduce laundry cycles the least. Building type, contact person education level and contact person employment status are not connected to the intervention outcomes. The results confirm observations from previous studies, that context may significantly affect the successfulness of energy behaviour interventions and therefore it should be carefully considered in planning interventions. The results also suggest that different energy practices are likely to be affected by different sets of contextual factors. The thesis shows that conducting cross-national comparative research is challenging and it requires careful planning throughout the research process.
  • Mela, Hanna; Peltomaa, Juha; Salo, Marja; Mäkinen, Kirsi; Hildén, Mikael (2018)
    Smart metering is advancing rapidly and consumption feedback from smart meters is expected to help residents to reduce their energy and water consumption. In recent years, more critical views have been expressed based on theories of social practice, arguing that smart meter feedback ignores the role of various mundane practices where energy and water are consumed and instead targets individuals as active decision-makers. We present a review of qualitative studies on smart meter feedback and results of a survey to European smart metering projects. We argue that theories of social practice can be used to reframe the challenges and potentials of smart meter feedback that have been identified in the literature and our survey. This presents challenges of smart meter feedback as resulting from normalised resource intensive practices rather than from uninterested and comfort-loving individuals. Potentials of improving the effectiveness of smart meter feedback relate to supporting communities and peer-learning and combining smart meter feedback with micro-generation of renewable energy. This has implications for how domestic energy and water consumption is targeted by policy.
  • Borch, Anita (2013)
    Problem-oriented studies of gambling have been dominated by psychological and increasingly neuroscientific approaches. Less attention has been paid to the social surroundings that influence and are influenced by problem gambling. To help fill this gap in research, this thesis focuses on what Sulkunen and Rantala (Rantala and Sulkunen, 2011, Sulkunen 2007, 2012) call cultural images of gambling and problem gambling. Cultural images refer to shared thoughts, which main function is to create a common reality of meanings, and hence enable people to orientate in the world and to communicate with others. Inspired by Sulkunen and Rantala s theories, it can be argued that problem gamblers undergo a process with three partially overlapping and mutually influencing stages of image-making: semiosis, de-semiosis and re-semiosis. In the process of semiosis, gambling is perceived, interpreted and given meaning. In the processes of de-semiosis and re-semiosis this meaning is changed and new images are born. So far the hypothesis of Sulkunen and Rantala has been analyzed in two particular settings: the fictional context of Western films dealing with different kinds of addiction, and the virtual context of a Finnish web forum discussing gambling and gambling problems. The aim of the thesis is to explore the hypothesis in the context of the household. Studying cultural images in the context of the household is an important supplement to dominant psychological and neuroscientific approaches on gambling, and hence contributes to preventing and reducing the harm of problem gambling in society. Based on qualitative studies of households with and without reported gambling problems, the analysis supports the hypothesis suggesting that problem gamblers undergo a process of semiosis, de-semiosis and re-semiosis. Interestingly, the research also indicates that other household members, in this case the spouse, seem to undergo a similar process. Consequently, significant members of the immediate family should to a larger extent be included in prevention and harm reduction work, both by virtue of being an affected part ( patient ), and in terms of representing a self-help resource ( therapist ).
  • Chakraborty, Robin; Kavonius, Ilja Kristian; Pérez-Duarte, Sébastien; Vermeulen, Philip (2019)
    The financial accounts of the household sector within the system of national accounts report the aggregate asset holdings and liabilities of all households within a country. In principle, when household wealth surveys are explicitly designed to be representative of all households, aggregating these microdata should correspond to the macro-aggregates. In practice, however, differences are large. We first discuss conceptual and generic differences between those two sources of data. Thereafter, we investigate missing top tail observation from wealth surveys as a source of discrepancy. By fitting a Pareto distribution to the upper tail, we provide an estimate of how much of the gap between the micro- and macrodata is caused by the underestimation of the top tail of the wealth distribution. Conceptual and generic differences, as well as missing top tail observations, explain part of the gap between financial accounts and survey aggregates.
  • Pirtonen, Heidi (Helsingin yliopisto, 2014)
    City of Helsinki is aspiring towards carbon neutrality by 2050. Households play an important role in this matter, as their share of carbon dioxide emissions is substantial in the city-level. The energy efficiency of different household appliances is improving, but their usage is rising in tandem. Overall, it is recognized that there needs to be a change in household behaviour. In this thesis I examine what kinds of low carbon actions households are taking and what has motivated them to do so. The thesis is done in co-operation with Aalto University’s HAPPI project, which deals with carbon neutral living in Helsinki. The project studies possibilities to promote climate friendly actions on a residential level. Research was carried out in Mellunkylä, a residential area in eastern Helsinki. The contribution of this thesis is to recognize customs that advance and support low carbon actions on a residential level. The research question took shape as: “What are the low carbon actions that the households in Mellunkylä are taking and why are they taking them?” In order to answer both questions, I decided to use two methods: a survey and interviews. The survey aimed to provide quantitative information about the people living in Mellunkylä as well as a generalization on how they were acting, what they were interested in and what they saw as barriers to further behavior change. In order to better understand what these actions mean for the households and to gain information about their values and other motivations, qualitative interviews were a justified method to further assess the research problem. They aimed to specify the behavior changes that had already occurred and what kinds of motives lie behind these behaviors, as well as to assess the barriers to other behavior changes. Results from both studies indicate that most households were generally making mostly curtailment actions, such as reducing the use of lightning, household appliances and water consumption. There were also efficiency actions, which for the most part consisted of investing on new lightning and household appliances. The households were not fond of acquiring green electricity and were not generally trying to reduce their emissions through heating-related solutions. The households had a general idea of why they should reduce their energy consumption: energy use was commonly understood a societal problem and everyone’s responsibility. The interviewees mentioned altruistic values and biospheric concerns most often, which was fruitful in that these kinds of values are important in saving energy in the long run. Of the external motivators economic factors were mentioned repetitively. They were thought to have an effect on the individual as well as on the economy. It seemed that the households were hoping to be able to use energy without worries and with small expenses. This suggests that the motivations for low carbon actions lie within costs and ease of life rather than environmental concerns. Habits were often mentioned as a barrier to behavior change. Also costs and inability to follow one’s energy consumption were some of the barriers that stood out in the studies. This is in line with the fact that the participants were making more of the curtailment actions rather than efficiency actions, which can be more costly. The case study households showed interest in following their energy consumption, so some kind of feedback as well as personal recommendations for improvement could be in place. This is an important area where the city could take actions, for example, by supporting the households to commit in reducing their energy consumption. It should be noted that in reaching a low carbon lifestyle, there are various routes, of which living-related low carbon actions are only one piece. It is important to find the actions and interventions which can result in long lasting behavioral changes.
  • Kolehmainen, Jari (Helsingin yliopisto, 2018)
    Households globally contribute 72 %, and in Finland about 70 % of greenhouse gas emissions, so they have a remarkable potential to mitigate climate change. Alongside technical solutions, human behavior patterns have been identified as a significant component of consumption, and changing them towards more environmentally friendly direction would increase our chances to combat climate change. These behaviors can be explored with social practice theory that sees people’s daily behavior as a part of a broader independent object, practice. As in many aspects households' everyday life consists of repetition of daily habits, social practice theory provides a suitable framework for assessing the changes made by households. This Master's Thesis will look into two household consumption sub-areas, mobility and the use of electrical appliances, in four Finnish sustainable consumption projects related to households. The material for the study was collected from written material as well as interviewing two experts from each project's personnel. The projects were living lab experiments in which 5 to 16 households tried to reduce their consumption of energy and natural resources by making more sustainable consumption choices and changing their habits. How do these projects seek to influence practices? What is the significance of the changes related to mobility and electric appliances for climate change mitigation in the home context? To assess this significance, a framework for evaluation, climate change mitigation potential, was developed. To be a decisive measure, a significant reduction in the carbon footprint as well as the ability to spread widely among households are essential. Thus, the climate change mitigation potential of a given measure was determined as the product of 1) impact, and 2) feasibility, which were estimated on a five-step scale. As a basis for the evaluation, both project material and more general analyses were used. 13 measures were identified, that aimed to influence the practices of using electrical appliances and of mobility, either by recrafting the elements of the practices, substituting old practices with new ones, changing how different practices interlock, or combining these approaches. The unanimous opinion of the interviewees was that personal counseling played a particularly important role in achieving the changes. The climate change mitigation potential was low in electrical appliance use and moderate in mobility changes. The result was not surprising, since the use of electrical appliances accounts for smaller part of households' greenhouse gas emissions than mobility. However, the climate change mitigation potential turned out to be a viable assessment framework that has value in future experiments and policy interventions, helping to focus on measures that have the greatest potential to reduce climate stress. Although, especially by changing the practices of mobility, households can achieve significant carbon dioxide savings, the balancing between realistic feasibility and good impact will result in the magnitude of less than 10 % of the households’ carbon footprint, including both mobility and electric appliance use. Taking other areas of consumption into account will improve this potential, but it is undeniable that households on their own will not be able to accomplish the almost 80 % reduction required for a sustainable level of consumption. Therefore, expectations of sustainable consumption cannot be left only to households and the changing of habits, but it is equally important to create a sustainable energy and infrastructure system, which will enable households to satisfy their remaining energy and mobility needs economically and fluently. In the end, the responsibility of this system falls on the decision makers, as only they have the necessary means to steer and sponsor companies, researchers and consumers to build together a carbon-free future.
  • Ren, Yang; Kuuluvainen, Jari; Toppinen, Anne; Yao, Shunbo; Berghall, Sami; Karppinen, Heimo; Xue, Caixia; Yang, Liu (2018)
    The implementation of China's natural forest protection project (Protection Project) in 1998 changed households' forestry production modes in project regions, and China's new circular collective forest tenure reform (Tenure Reform) has been implemented since 2003 with the goal of motivating household forestry production and increasing household income from forests. Policymakers expect that Tenure Reform could also stimulate households to engage in non-timber forest products (NTFPs) production in Protection Project regions. However, only a few studies have investigated the effect of Tenure Reform on household NTFP production in Protection Project regions. To fill this gap, we built an integrative conceptual framework and estimated a corresponding structural equation model (SEM) using survey data from 932 households in Protection Project regions in southwestern China. In our research framework, there are four factors, including household characteristics, labour and social capital, forestland characteristics, and the Tenure Reform, affecting household NTFP production. The results substantiate that Tenure Reform has had a significant positive effect on household NTFP production. Additionally, household and forestland characteristics have promoted household NTFP production, but quantitatively less than Tenure Reform. This report can be used to inform the government that future investment in Tenure Reform still needs to be enhanced, and policy enforcement still needs to be strengthened.
  • Ayeah, Emile Yonghabi (2007)
    The aim of this research was to understand how elderly people in the Kom region were surviving without effective social security systems in Cameroon considering that survival among elderly people in the Kom region of Cameroon had become increasingly difficult with the advent of the economic crisis in the early 1980s.This crisis affected institutions as well as family resources thereby reducing their capacity to render support especially to its elderly members. With the help of face to face interviews conducted during my field work with a sample population from the Kom area, I was also able explain to what extent the elderly people could possibly survive on their own initiatives as well as those obstacles and challenges involved in the process. The effects of the crisis leads to wide spread poverty forcing households units as well as extended families to also limit their financial and material support to older family members and to also start considering as important only their most immediate family members as their primary beneficiaries (that is their spouses and kids) of the resources available. Understandably, the elderly people usually in the country sides as in the context of the Kom region are mostly affected as they gradually see the active members of the households and the family units moving out to the urban areas to meet up with the realities of modernisation and urbanisation. The harsh reality of the disintegration of family structures sets in as households can no longer carry on its responsibilities as a social security institution. The struggle for survival by the elderly people is again explained in this research as being aggravated by certain factors. While some elderly people faced the challenges of surviving amidst difficult traditional beliefs and customs which off course impacts seriously on elderly women in particular, other factors like bribery and corruption within State institutions continues to act as speed brakes on the progress of the elderly people in the Kom region. As part of my findings, one of the most important understandings was how to link my hypothesis to the problem which was trying to understand the effects of the crisis on a long standing tradition of household support on its members. The lack of an effective social security system is not unique to many societies especially in Sub Saharan Africa as suggested in most of the documented sources I used for this research that include diverse UN web pages, the CIA World Fact Book, published journals, library sources ,articles as well as internet sources. However, these rich diverse sources had something in common which was the calling for a global reaction towards improving the situation of the elderly people.
  • Huuki, Hannu; Karhinen, Santtu; Böök, Herman; Lindfors, Anders V.; Kopsakangas-Savolainen, Maria; Svento, Rauli (Elsevier, 2020)
    Journal of Energy Storage 28 (2020), 101202
    Intermittent renewable energy generation, which is determined by weather conditions, is increasing in power markets. The efficient integration of these energy sources calls for flexible participants in smart power grids. It has been acknowledged that a large, underutilized, flexible resource lies on the consumer side of electricity generation. Despite the recently increasing interest in demand flexibility, there is a gap in the literature concerning the incentives for consumers to offer their flexible energy to power markets. In this paper, we examine a virtual power plant concept, which simultaneously optimizes the response of controllable electric hot water heaters to solar power forecast error imbalances. Uncertainty is included in the optimization in terms of solar power day-ahead forecast errors and balancing power market conditions. We show that including solar power imbalance minimization in the target function changes the optimal hot water heating profile such that more electricity is used during the daytime. The virtual power plant operation decreases solar power imbalances by 5–10% and benefits the participating households by 4.0–7.5 € in extra savings annually. The results of this study indicate that with the number of participating households, while total profits increase, marginal revenues decrease.
  • Ukkonen, Aino; Sahimaa, Olli (Elsevier, 2021)
    Waste Management 135 (2021), 372-380
    Municipal solid waste is associated with different systemic challenges, such as climate change, resource scarcity, and ocean plastic pollution. European countries are striving towards more circular material use and the European Commission has advocated the use of economic incentives to boost recycling. The pay-as-you-throw (PAYT) scheme is an economic instrument that applies the ‘polluter pays’ principle by charging for waste according to the actual amount of generated waste. Volume-based PAYT fees have shown to be potentially less effective in waste prevention and recycling than weight-based fees. This paper illustrates how waste management operators can price residual waste with weight-based fees that encourage recycling, are fair with respect to service levels, and cover the current income for municipal waste operators. The result, obtained by forming equations satisfying the above conditions, is a model with a linear, discrete price function, where the price of the residual waste generated by the citizen is a function of the service level. This model encourages efficient source separation through internal subsidies, wherein a citizen can decrease the price of household waste by 32% if they increase the sorting efficiency from a default of 40% to 80% efficiency. The application of the model was illustrated in a case example. The model developed in this study can be used to implement weight-based PAYT schemes locally, thereby supporting the formulation of waste management systems that facilitate waste reduction and recycling.