Household energy consumption is examined in the specific context of home heating expenditures. Analysis of home heat costs across stages of the family life cycle reveals a distinctly different pattern than previously found when total household energy costs were examined. In contrast to the curvilinear pattern where expenditures peak during middle stages of the life cycle, these data show a positive linear relationship where higher costs are associated with elderly consumers. The research focus is expanded to include heat-related conservation behavior as well as expenditures in an effort to better understand implications for policy makers and-marketers. INTRODUCTION
According to reports from the Department of Energy, energy consumption in the average home could be slashed by 60% through the use of conservation methods and investment in new products to improve the efficiency of consumption. Toward this end, DOE (1980) survey results show some sort of conservation-related equipment or insulating material was added to 50% of the housing units eligible for Federal energy tax credits in 1977-78. Homeowners in 1980 claimed tax credits on an estimated $4 billion worth of investments in energy saving products primarily related to home heating. Analysts suggest that this investment rate could reach the $30 billion level per year by 1990 (Business Week 1981). As the result of consumer efforts from 1973-1980, DOE estimates that energy consumption per household has been reduced an average of 12: (Forbes 1982). While many policy decision makers would agree that demand for energy should be reduced, not all households are equally capable of changing their consumption patterns or investing in energy saving products. Determining where the biggest gains in improved efficiency of energy usage are likely to occur is a necessary first step in the development of public conservation programs as well as the marketing of conservation-related products and services. The study of conservation behavior on the part of consumers needs to be examined within the framework of consumption patterns if one is to develop an understanding of the impact of behavioral change. Thus far the study of consumer behavior related to energy consumption and conservation has been highly fragmented. The focus has tended to be on either consumption patterns or conservation behaviors with little effort directed at understanding the relationship between these two fields of study. The purpose of this paper is to examine both energy consumption and conservation patterns in the specific context of home heat usage. RESEARCH BACKGROUND
The appropriate unit of analysis for the study of both home heating consumption and subsequent heat-related conservation behavior is the household. While households can be categorized on any number of dimensions including income, number of members, and relative age of members, a framework for study which presents a composite of several measures related to consumption behavior is family life cycle. In a comprehensive study, Wells and Gubar (1966) documented distinct differences in consumption patterns associated with various stages of development in the family unit. Since that time, several modified formulations of the life cycle concept have been proposed (Murphy and Staples 1979; Norton 1974; Duvall 1971). The Murphy and Staples version has been the only one to generate much support in the field due to its ability to classify larger percentages of households. While the specific category descriptions of the family life cycle may have been modified to encompass a greater variety of family life styles, the premise that household needs and priorities change depending on stages of family development remains a sound one. Application of the family life cycle concept to the study of energy consumption behavior has occurred on limited basis. Morrison and Gladhart (1976) propose that families in child-rearing stages use more residential energy than families...
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