Why do we open our windows (and let our energy escape)?

(27-10-2021) In her PhD, Silke Verbruggen investigated the habits of occupants in residential buildings. With this data, a user behavior model can be developed that will potentially save a lot of energy in the future.

In recent years there has been a growing awareness of the impact of climate change on the planet and the need to save energy. Energy consumption in residential buildings depends on various aspects such as the building envelope, the installed systems, the climate, but also on user behavior.

"The occupant of a building can influence energy use in different ways: ranging from simply being present to more dynamic actions such as opening windows. ", explains Silke.

Literature shows that this influence on energy use and indoor climate is not negligible. In order to better predict user behavior and associated energy use, user behavior models have been developed over the years.

Current modeling approaches mainly focus on the assumption that user behavior is based on a certain intention to perform that behavior, therefore many models link user behavior to weather and time variables.

"However, behavioral studies from sociology and psychology indicate that not all behaviors are reasoned, but that behaviors can also be habits that are performed without thinking about it.", Silke explains.

"The goal of my doctoral study was therefore to gather knowledge about habits in residential buildings so that these findings could then be used to develop a user behavior model based on habits. A model that could potentially save a lot of energy in the future," concludes Silke.

Read the entire PhD


PhD Title: Window Use Habits as an Example of Habitual Occupant Behaviour in Residential Buildings


Contact: Silke Verbruggen, Arnold Janssens (supervisor), Jelle Laverge (supervisor)



Editor: Jeroen Ongenae - Illustrator: Roger Van Hecke