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Do Homeowners Use Energy Labels? a Comparison Between Denmark and Belgium

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Energy Policy, Volume 35, Number 5, p.2879-2888 (2007)



Energy labels on buildings are mandatory in Europe since 2006 with the application of the European directive 2002/91/CE on the energy performance of buildings. Therefore, it is relevant to analyse how the labels work in those countries that already have experiences with them. This article analyses how house owners have interpreted and used the knowledge from labels for the renovation of their house. The study is based on qualitative interviews with ten households having a Belgian volunteer energy assessment and ten households having the Danish mandatory energy label on their newly bought house. The article questions the faith in the rational enlightened actor, which is at the basis of the idea of labels. Using sociological theories on knowledge and everyday life in the interpretation of the qualitative material, it is shown that people relate to, interpret and question new knowledge rather than just take it in. Furthermore, it is also shown how the use of knowledge and advice interact with other priorities in everyday life. These results can help explain why people often do not carry through energy measures even though it might be economically advantageous to them. In the conclusion, it is also discussed how this type of knowledge might be used to improve energy labels.