The European Union has recently set a new goal of 32.5% energy efficiency for 2030 compared to the levels of 2005. Efforts towards the improvement of the energy efficiency of the housing stock is essential to the decrease of negative effects of climate change and energy systems objectives [1
]. Scenarios for the energy use in buildings show an increase of up to five times by 2100 compared to 2010 [2
]. Furthermore, European Union Directives urge member states to develop long-term strategies for investments in building renovations, with a goal that the existing building stock be renovated by 2050 [3
Sweden has a cross-sectoral target of reducing energy intensity by 20% between 2008 and 2020. Especially for the building sector, Sweden has a national goal to reduce energy consumption by 20% compared to the 1995 level by the year 2020 [5
]. The residential sector could be a major contributor to achieve this target, as it is responsible for almost 40% of the total energy use, with 12% of it coming from single-family houses [6
]. Out of 4.7 million residential dwellings, 51% (2.4 million) are one- or two-family houses (stand-alone houses or houses divided either vertically or horizontally and designed for two families occupying separate apartments), and they account for 293 million square meters of floor area, which is larger than that of multi-family houses [7
According to Statistics Central Bureau (SCB) in Sweden, 86% of the one- and two-family dwellings are about 30 years old. They have poor energy standard and are in need of renovation. About 50% of these houses use direct electricity heating or in combination with air-source heating [8
]. Moreover, in these old houses, technical installations are likely to be close to the end of their expected life cycle and need replacement.
Renovations in multi-family dwellings, which are carried out by medium to large contractors, have been in the center of political debate in Sweden [9
], and a subject of different studies [10
]. On the other hand, discussions about the renovations of one or two-family dwellings are falling behind. For those houses, energy efficiency is not the main renovation rationale, but a potential additional benefit in a renovation project [14
Renovations of kitchen and bathrooms are still the most dominant activities, and usually the return on such an investment is rather low, as it has been found in studies in Germany and some other European countries [15
]. In Sweden, house owners carry out renovations, which in small numbers are related to interventions towards improving energy efficiency (e.g., additional ceiling/wall insulation, change of windows, and installation of an advanced heating system) [17
]. The same situation applies to other European countries [18
], where energy renovations seem not to have become a common practice among house owners.
There is large potential for energy efficiency improvements in house renovations, but that potential is not realized due to various barriers. The existing literature examines the reasons for the “energy efficiency gap” [20
] and explains investments on products and services would improve energy efficiency levels [22
]. Results show that investments on those, at this stage, are low, compared to other investment opportunities available in the market [23
Haavik et al. [25
] argued that renovation should be a learning process for house owners, as they become aware of the measures they can or should perform in their dwelling, to improve its overall energy performance. Mahapatra et al. [26
] described a full-service renovation concept named One-Stop-Shop (OSS). This concept consists of five phases, namely initial evaluation, thorough analysis, proposal of a set of solutions, coordinated execution of the renovation and quality assurance and continued commissioning of the house. Such a concept guides house owners through all the phases of renovation, allowing the adoption of those measures that will improve the energy performance of the dwelling, while at the same time it offers them a renovated house that satisfies their needs. One-stop-shop as a concept has been proposed or tested as a guide in national contexts, such as Norway [27
] and Denmark [28
]. In Sweden, one-stop-shop still is a theoretical concept for house renovations [26
For that purpose, renovations are divided in two categories. Physical renovations, which are renovations related to the improvement of the energy performance of the dwelling, and which often require interventions in the building envelope, and aesthetic renovations, which are related to the aesthetic improvement of the dwelling (new kitchen or bathroom, painting the walls or install new wallpaper, etc.).
There exist several studies on house owners’ decision-making towards renovations [29
]. Each of these studies apply to specific contexts. Therefore, the need to examine country-specific factors affecting house owners’ decisions to renovate is important to design intervention measures, as these factors are influenced by the political, economic, social and cultural context of each country. In a previous study [35
], we examined factors that influence Swedish house owners’ decisions to renovate in the past. The study showed that majority of the households had performed aesthetic renovation in the past and limited households had performed physical renovation in steps. In most cases, house owners would like to tailor the renovation package to their specific wishes providing less importance to the proper sequence and scope of necessary renovation tasks to gain synergy in the entire renovation project [36
]. In this paper, we examine the factors affecting Swedish house owners’ decisions to renovate in the near future in general, and the preferred type of renovation in particular. We are interested in understanding the pathway that leads to the intention/plan for future renovation and to examine if such decisions are influenced by the renovation performed in the past.
The European Commission through the “Smart financing for smart buildings” initiative and through the “new” Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) supports one-stop-shop concepts as part of the Directive 2018/844/EU [37
]. In this particular directive [4
], “Member States are required to facilitate access to appropriate mechanisms for accessible and transparent advisory tools, such as one-stop-shops for consumers and energy advisory services, on relevant energy efficiency renovations and financing instruments.” Since one-stop-shop models in the European Union are at an initial stage of market development, it is important to know if a market for that concept exists, and who can be the beneficiaries from this model. Analyzing the potential interest of Swedish house owners on one-stop-shop helps us to acquire knowledge regarding the level of market in the country, and those specific attributes of house owners interested to renovate their dwelling with that model. The results can be used as a guide on a broader European level for the further development of the concept in the future. Moreover, this paper analyzes the potential interest of Swedish house owners on a one-stop-shop concept for renovation.
The study was based on the responses to an online questionnaire survey of 971 house owners in Kronoberg County, focusing on their plans to renovate until 2020. Examining house owners’ plans for renovation provided understanding on how these house owners think and the factors that can affect their decisions. Kronoberg County is an interesting setting for this study as it has energy efficiency and sustainability central to its development strategy [38
3. Methods and Data
The data analyzed in this study was gathered from an online survey of house owners in the Kronoberg Region, Sweden, conducted in late spring 2017. The survey included different sections related to respondents’ demographic characteristics, characteristics of their dwelling, past experiences on renovation, plans for renovation up to 2020, and perception towards a holistic service for house renovation among others. The house insurance company Länsförsäkring Kronoberg (the daughter company of Länsförsäkring AB, a Swedish federation of 23 mutual insurance companies owned by the customers) emailed the online questionnaire to 7193 house owners. A total of 971 house owners answered after one reminder. The response rate of 13.5% is in line with the standards for online surveys [77
]. All statistical analyses were performed using the R 3.4
To better understand the complex causal relationships among the factors affecting the owners’ decisions, we estimated a structural equation model using a partial least square approach, a technique also known as partial least squares path modeling (PLSPM) [79
]. This technique—which has found large application in marketing and tourism studies [81
] and in construction research [85
]—employs rigorous statistical tools [86
] to estimate models including complex cause–effect relationships. Models usually comprise both manifest variables and latent constructs, i.e., variables that are not directly observable but can be inferred from the data. More specifically, any PLSPM is built in two steps. First, latent constructs are built from the manifest observations through principal component analysis. Each construct is thought to represent a single “dimension” underlying the observed variables. Then, a network of relations among these constructs is hypothesized, where links are assumed to represent cause–effects processes. The network is formed by one or more starting nodes (“independent” variables only affecting other nodes), one or more intermediate nodes (construct both affecting and being affected by other nodes) and one or more terminal nodes (constructs affected but not affecting other nodes). Finally, the resulting “paths” are estimated quantitatively by considering the overall network as a system of multiple interconnected linear regressions.
5. Discussion and Conclusions
This study analyzed the complex casual relationships among several variables leading to house owners planned renovation in the near future, and identified the attributes that positively or negatively affected those decisions. Furthermore, it provided us with information about the attitude of house owners towards a one-stop-shop service for renovations, which includes consulting, independent energy audit, renovation work, independent quality control and commissioning, and financing offered by a single actor. The findings show that more than 50% of examined house owners were positively inclined to perform a renovation project in their dwellings in the near future. In their majority, they prefer to renovate only individual components of their dwelling. For those planning to renovate their whole house, they preferred to perform such a project following a step wise approach, rather than renovating their house at once.
The analysis shows that, if any kind of renovation (physical or aesthetic) has already been carried out in the past, it negatively influences the decision of house owners to perform any type of renovation in the future. For those who are planning to perform a renovation in the future, the plan is to renovate only individual components of their dwelling addressing the immediate needs of their household.
House owners with higher income and higher education are more inclined towards performing physical renovations that improve the energy performance of the house. Additionally, those house owners are of younger age, and they show interest for the environment. Their interest on the environment was found to be an important motive for them, and it is an indicator to show that their decision to adopt energy efficient measures is connected to a broader environmental protection goal. On the other hand, satisfaction of house owners with the current state of their dwelling is an attribute that negatively affects their decision to perform a renovation in the future. That satisfaction can possibly derive from the outcomes of a previously performed renovation.
Our findings show that the age of the house affects positively, yet weakly, the decisions of house owners to perform changes that will improve the aesthetics and comfort of their dwelling. Such a decision is further connected to the energy concerns of the owners, as well as their financial capacity, age and educational level.
The one-stop-shop concept for the renovation of single-family houses that presently does not exist in Sweden. Answers regarding intention on the hypothetical one-stop-shop concept showed that 21% of the respondents have a significant interest for this concept. This segment consists of middle-aged house owners (aged 30–50), with higher income and high-level of education. The age of the house did not have significant influence on the decision on one-stop-shop. Again, those house owners who are satisfied with the condition of their dwelling show no interest in such a concept.
For those house owners interested in one-stop-shop, it can facilitate their renovation decision process. By considering the individual characteristics of each household and the socio-economic conditions of household, one-stop-shop can offer customized renovation package solutions with proper sequencing adopting the necessary measures to improve their quality of life, and enable them to perform physical or deep renovation in steps.
Those respondents who showed interest for one-stop-shop posed some interesting arguments that could act as guidelines for the further development of this concept. Parameters such as the quality of work, clearly defined costs and energy savings and the suggestion of specific measures to adopt play an important role towards deciding to buy such a service. Financial incentives, for example loans, were considered as of lower importance for those interested in one-stop-shop. Such loans however could act as a motive for house owners who are yet unsure of choosing an one-stop-shop for the renovation of their dwelling, and the role of such a financial incentive need to be further examined. Another parameter that could be the subject of further research for the development of a one-stop-shop concept relates to the expressed desire of house owners to be able to choose the different companies that will perform the renovation works. The level of their involvement on one-stop-shop and how this could affect the final renovation could be further researched.
This study has some limitations. The potential of self-selection bias in the analysis exists with respect to aspects that have not been taken under consideration. Additionally, since the analyzed sample consists of house owners living in Kronoberg Region, it reflects the perceptions within this specific geographic area, which may be different to those of people living in other regions in Sweden. Furthermore, we need to consider that house owners were asked to express their interest in a concept that presently does not exist in the Swedish market.
To sum up, the process leading to the decision for renovation in the future is the product of several variable interacting with each other to the outcome. Taking into account the multiple factors affecting such a decision, we have identified a target group, consisting of house owners aged between 30 and 50 years of age, with university education and medium-high and high income, which has a higher inclination to adopt energy efficiency measures in the renovation of their dwelling. That same group also shows significant interest for one-stop-shop renovation services for their dwelling. Financial incentives and participatory acts from house owners’ side can increase the interest for one-stop-shop. Those can be the subject of study for policy-makers to manage to mobilize more house owners to the direction of energy efficiency, achieving that way the realization of a part of national goals for environment in the future. Moreover, even though the analysis concerned a sample of house owners living at a specific geographical area, we were able to extract statistically strong results, providing interesting insights about house owners’ plans for renovation, and their perceptions over a holistic service for that renovation, which could be relevant for international audiences.