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Switching from fossil fuel to renewables in residential heating systems: An empirical study of homeowners' decisions in Germany

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  • Michelsen, Carl Christian
  • Madlener, Reinhard

Abstract

The replacement of outdated and inefficient fossil fuel residential heating systems (RHS) by more efficient and less CO2-intensive appliances primarily based on renewable energy sources is an important pillar for the transition to a cleaner and more sustainable energy system. This paper empirically investigates drivers and barriers behind homeowners' decisions to switch from a fossil fuel to a renewable RHS in Germany. For this purpose, we draw on data from a 2010 questionnaire survey among owners of existing single-family and duplex houses in Germany that had received a financial grant to install an RHS (i.e. condensing boiler with solar thermal support, heat pump or wood pellet boiler). We show that environmental protection, a lower dependency on fossil fuels, and a higher degree of RHS-related knowledge are key drivers. In contrast, the perceived difficulty of getting used to the system and a misunderstanding of its principal functioning are obstacles for the heat pump. For the wood pellet boiler, perceived barriers include the low usability, the labor-intensive operation, and the systems' fault liability. Hence, a higher replacement rate requires the willingness to relinquish old habits and perceptions of how an RHS works and operates.

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  • Michelsen, Carl Christian & Madlener, Reinhard, 2016. "Switching from fossil fuel to renewables in residential heating systems: An empirical study of homeowners' decisions in Germany," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 89(C), pages 95-105.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:89:y:2016:i:c:p:95-105
    DOI: 10.1016/j.enpol.2015.11.018
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    Cited by:

    1. Damette, Olivier & Delacote, Philippe & Lo, Gaye Del, 2018. "Households energy consumption and transition toward cleaner energy sources," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 751-764.
    2. Michelsen, Carl Christian & Madlener, Reinhard, 2015. "Beyond Technology Adoption: Homeowner Satisfaction with Newly Adopted Residential Heating Systems," FCN Working Papers 1/2015, E.ON Energy Research Center, Future Energy Consumer Needs and Behavior (FCN).
    3. repec:eee:enepol:v:108:y:2017:i:c:p:673-683 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Girod, Bastien & Mayer, Sebastian & Nägele, Florian, 2017. "Economic versus belief-based models: Shedding light on the adoption of novel green technologies," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 415-426.
    5. Strazzera, Elisabetta & Statzu, Vania, 2017. "Fostering photovoltaic technologies in Mediterranean cities: Consumers’ demand and social acceptance," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 102(PB), pages 361-371.
    6. repec:eee:rensus:v:80:y:2017:i:c:p:421-429 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Hecher, Maria & Hatzl, Stefanie & Knoeri, Christof & Posch, Alfred, 2017. "The trigger matters: The decision-making process for heating systems in the residential building sector," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 288-306.
    8. repec:eee:resene:v:52:y:2018:i:c:p:64-86 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Ruokamo, Enni, 2016. "Household preferences of hybrid home heating systems – A choice experiment application," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 95(C), pages 224-237.
    10. repec:eee:energy:v:148:y:2018:i:c:p:716-727 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. repec:eee:enepol:v:113:y:2018:i:c:p:559-570 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. repec:eee:enepol:v:106:y:2017:i:c:p:222-232 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. repec:eee:rensus:v:82:y:2018:i:p3:p:2618-2628 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Bauermann, Klaas, 2016. "German Energiewende and the heating market – Impact and limits of policy," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 94(C), pages 235-246.
    15. repec:eee:rensus:v:75:y:2017:i:c:p:534-547 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. repec:eee:enepol:v:117:y:2018:i:c:p:75-85 is not listed on IDEAS
    17. McCoy, Daire & Curtis, John, 2018. "Exploring the spatial and temporal determinants of gas central heating adoption," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 64-86.
    18. Anke Jacksohn & Peter Grösche & Katrin Rehdanz & Carsten Schröder, 2018. "Drivers of Renewable Technology Adoption in the Household Sector," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 977, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    19. Jingchao, Zhang & Kotani, Koji & Saijo, Tatsuyoshi, 2018. "Public acceptance of environmentally friendly heating in Beijing: A case of a low temperature air source heat pump," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 117(C), pages 75-85.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Residential heating systems; Private households; Technology replacement; Adoption barriers; Consumer choice;

    JEL classification:

    • C25 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Discrete Regression and Qualitative Choice Models; Discrete Regressors; Proportions; Probabilities
    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • Q41 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Demand and Supply; Prices

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