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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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This paper investigates key drivers and barriers behind homeowners’ decisions to switch from a fossil fuel (i.e. oil or gas boiler) to a renewable residential heating system (RHS). For this purpose, we draw on data from a 2010 questionnaire survey among owners of existing 1-family or 2-family homes in Germany that had received a financial grant for installing an (at least partly) renewable RHS (i.e. heat pump or wood pellet boiler). We analyze the data by means of logistic regression techniques. First, our results show that the motivation to deal with external threats (i.e. environmental protection and reduction of dependence on fossil fuels) and a higher degree of RHS-related knowledge are key drivers for switching to a renewable RHS. Second, we identify the different barriers that prevent homeowners from adopting a specific RHS. In particular, for the adoption of fossil fuel RHS, the perceived strong reliance on pricey oil or natural gas is found to be a major hurdle. For the heat pump, we find that the perceived difficulty of getting used to the system and a misunderstanding of its principal functioning are important obstacles. Finally, for the wood pellet boiler, our results imply that non-adopters perceive the low usability, the labor-intensive operation, and the systems’ high fault liability to be important barriers. We conclude that homeowners often fear major changes to their current status quo (e.g. replacement of the existing heating system infrastructure) and, thus, tend to opt for minor and thus quick adjustments to their RHS (e.g. replacing only the boiler). Likewise, a higher replacement rate of fossil fuel by renewable RHS requires the homeowners’ willingness to relinquish old habits and perceptions of how an RHS works and operates.

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  • Michelsen , Carl Christian & Madlener, Reinhard, 2013. "Switching from Fossil Fuel to Renewables in Residential Heating Systems: An Empirical Study of Homeowners’ Decisions in Germany," FCN Working Papers 14/2013, E.ON Energy Research Center, Future Energy Consumer Needs and Behavior (FCN).
  • Handle: RePEc:ris:fcnwpa:2013_014
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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. repec:eee:enepol:v:120:y:2018:i:c:p:183-196 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Bauermann, Klaas, 2016. "German Energiewende and the heating market – Impact and limits of policy," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 94(C), pages 235-246.
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    17. repec:eee:enepol:v:117:y:2018:i:c:p:75-85 is not listed on IDEAS
    18. 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.
    19. 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).
    20. 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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