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Recherche, Développement et Innovation en Génie Electrique

Séminaire, Prof. Eric Williams, Rochester Institute of Technology, 21 janv. 2020



Behavior and Energy Consumption in the US

Prof. Eric Williams
Professor, Golisano Institute for Sustainability, Rochester Institute of Technology

mardi 21 janvier 2020
16h00 – 18h00
Amphi Atrium, bâtiment ESPRIT, Université de Lille

Master and Doctoral school Unit
« Sustainable Development Applications »


The challenge of sustainable energy encompasses both supply and demand. Energy demand is intertwined with the lifestyles and choices of consumers. This talk addresses two aspects of energy and consumers: 1. How changing lifestyles affect energy use and 2. How different energy consumers are from one another.
On the first topic, lifestyles are changing due to Information Technology and other socio-technological trends. We attempt to capture the energy effects of the time-use aspects of lifestyle changes. We use the American Time Use Survey (ATUS) to first find shifts in times performing different activities from 2003–2012. The results show that an average American spends more time at home (19 more hours per year). This increased home time is balanced by decreased time spent in cars (3 hours per year) and in non-residential buildings (16 hours per year). Decomposition analysis is then used to estimate effects on energy consumption. The model indicates American are saving energy by staying at home, around 1.8% of the national total over the decade.
On the second topic, most of the ways societies manage energy use assume consumers are similar in energy use. For example, energy use labels on appliances list savings for an average consumer. People use actual energy technologies very differently. In one study we find huge differences in TV watching habits in the U.S: 14% of the population watches television 7.7 hours day, 34% watches 3.5 hours, and 52% percent of the population and watches 1.1 hours a day. The heavy watchers will save more than seven times the energy from buying an energy efficient TV compared to the light watching group. We find similar large differences in usage patterns and energy savings of clothes washers and dryers. More personalized information telling consumers how they would save energy from efficient technologies would increase the motivation of heavy users to get the right technologies.

About the Speaker

Eric Williams has been at the Rochester Institute of Technology since 2011. Eric’s recent research focuses on understanding progress and diffusion of energy supply and demand technologies, drawing on perspectives such as cost forecasting, market heterogeneity, and thermodynamic limits. Much of his prior work addressed the environmental assessment of information technology, such as characterization of materials flows in semiconductor and computer manufacturing and international management of electronic waste. Dr. Williams’ research is mainly funded by the National Science Foundation, with additional support from the Department of Energy and Ford Motor Company. He has published over 60 peer-reviewed articles, including in the journal Nature. He is also active in engaging outside of academia to disseminate research results. In 2008, he testified before a U.S. congressional committee developing legislation on electronic waste. His work has been covered in media in outlets such as USA Today, Science, and the BBC. He has also served on three committees of the National Research Council, one of the main organizations providing scientific input to national policy-making processes.

This seminar is supported by Univ. Lille, i-SITE ULNE, Region Hauts-de-France and MEL within the TESS project of the CUMIN program.

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