Modelling household responses to energy efficiency interventions via system dynamics and survey data

  • S Davis Energy Research Center, University of Cape Town
  • I Durbach University of Cape Town


An application of building a system dynamics model of the way households might respond to interventions aimed at reducing energy consumption (specifically the use of electricity) is described in this paper. A literature review of past research is used to build an initial integrated model of household consumption, and this model is used to generate a small number of research hypotheses about how households possessing different characteristics might react to various types of interventions. These hypotheses are tested using data gathered from an efficiency intervention conducted in a town in the South African Western Cape in which households were able to exchange regular light bulbs for more efficient compact fluorescent lamp light bulbs. Our experiences are (a) that a system dynamics approach proved useful in advancing a non-traditional point of view for which, for historical and economic reasons, data were not abundantly available; (b) that, in areas where traditional models are heavily quantitative, some scepticism to a system dynamics model may be expected; and (c) that a statistical comparison of model results by means of empirical data may be an effective tool in reducing such scepticism.
Research Articles