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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Household activities through various lenses: crossing surveys, diaries and electric consumption


The analysis of household energy consumption usually involves the description of technical systems and of people behaviors. This work focuses on the relationship between people activities, appliances use, and electric consumption. It relies on the application of a wide range of measurement tools on a unique sample of 60 households in France. Overall, questionnaires, diaries, and measured consumption provided a consistent description of the intensity and time of use of the three appliances studied. However, variations were found, depending on the indicator and appliance studied. The levels of activity derived from the diaries and consumption show large differences. However, they can be explained based on reasonable assumptions on the differences in the nature of the activities. Most importantly the variations in the intensity of use across households are consistent among the three measurement tools. This result allowed a partial description of the role of the frequency and duration of use, appliances features and energy saving gestures in the final energy consumption. In terms of methodology, this study shows that, questionnaires can provide consistent information on the relative level of energy consumption by household, while diaries provide reliable information about when this energy is consumed, supporting the use of the large scale and wide spread “Time Use Surveys” to model the diversity of power demand in Europe and America.

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