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Anna-Lisa Lindén

Anna-Lisa Linden

Professor emerita

Anna-Lisa Lindén

Energy Behaviour: Does generation matter?


  • Anna-Lisa Lindén

Summary, in English

Experiences early in life strongly shape values, attitudes and behaviour and serve as reference points ever after. Those who grew up in a society where resources are scarce may behave differently in an affluent society than those who got used to affluence even as children. This hypothesis was tested among 600 households in a major Swedish city who responded to questions about energy related behaviour and environmental attitudes. The households belonged to different generations, or age groups, lived in flats or detached houses and the questions were about energy use in their dwellings. On fourth of the total energy in Sweden is delivered to households for heating and appliances. Household electricity use is increasing.

The results show that there are no differences in environmental attitudes between generations. Generally, the concern with climate change is high and both young and old think it is important to conserve energy. However, energy related behaviour differed between age groups. The young people preferred higher temperatures indoors than the old ones, they liked showering better than bathing, they often used electric kettles for heating water because it was faster than other alternatives and they seldom rinsed the plates in warm water before putting them in the dish washer. The old people bathed more often than the young ones, their refrigerators and freezers were older but they valued energy efficiency higher. The old people showed more acceptances for lowering indoor temperature, they put lids on cooking pots more often and they more often aired clothes instead of washing them. All these behaviours impact electricity use and the demand for space heating and hot water. Some behaviour common among the young generation are favourable for energy efficiency, others are not.

Scenarios of energy futures should take such differences in behaviour between generations into account. They should also be considered in policymaking, when planning information campaigns and when designing other policy instruments.


  • Sociologi








  • Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)


  • energy efficiency
  • sociology
  • generations
  • energy use
  • sociologi

Conference name

Nordic Environment Network

Conference date

2003-06-10 - 2003-06-13

Conference place

Turku/åbo, Finland




  • Households and energy behaviour


  • Sustainability and Development Studies