The rise in energy prices and climate changes are emerging as critical issues for states, the nation, and the planet. Household travel and other activities are responsible for nearly half of the nation’s energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. To this end, students in Professor Kara Kockelman’s graduate class in Transport Data Acquisition and Analysis are conducting a study on household energy consumption, travel options, and climate change policy opinions.
Students have devised a survey instrument to understand current energy consumption patterns across different Austin household and dwelling types, while anticipating person- and household-level responses to higher energy prices, vehicle options, carbon policies, home-design opportunities, and new appliance options. They strategically sampled neighborhoods for survey distribution in hard-copy format, and solicited distribution of their survey website (www.energysurvey.co.nr) among hundreds of special interest groups and neighborhood associations across Austin. They expect to obtain more than 1,000 responses, and they will analyze these using a variety of regression model specifications (including ordered probit, nested logit, exploded logit, negative binomial, and least squares techniques).
Kockelman has taught her students that a proper understanding of household dynamics and travel behavior are key components to devising urban transportation and land use policies. "In the near term, current vehicle holdings, location choices, and building design limit what individuals can do to save energy," Kockelman said. "In the longer term, preferences shaped by regulations, past experiences and demographics will affect their behaviors. The class’s survey instrument is providing precious data for predicting such responses, and informing energy, climate, transport, building, and land use policies and practices."
The "Austin Home Energy Survey" takes approximately 20 minutes to complete and asks questions about the participant’s household income, size, neighborhood, vehicle ownership and other demographic information. It also asks questions regarding the participant’s regular travel and household energy use.
The responses are analyzed all together, providing full anonymity for all respondents. The results will be of interest to the U.S. Department of Energy, local utilities such as Austin Energy, state departments of transportation, city planners, and others with opportunity for policymaking in the energy and transportation arenas. The compiled and analyzed responses should facilitate behavioral forecasting and transport and energy policymaking.