Smart Cooling in the Tropics (SCIT) was a project whose main goals were to create energy savings and improve human thermal comfort in low income households located in Darwin, Australia. The project was funded through the Australian Government’s Low Income Energy Efficiency Program (LIEEP). The attitudes and behaviours of the 476 participants were investigated through a series of surveys. Each participant was allocated a single, focused treatment based on the results from a home energy assessment. The impediments to energy savings were found to be diverse among participants, so having an individualized treatment plan was necessary to ensure it was appropriate for each participant. One particular aspect of the project that is examined here was the energy savings brought about using education to initiate behaviour changes in participants to reduce their electricity usage. The data collected showed that participants were already actively trying to reduce their consumption through common energy-saving practices before joining SCIT, which were the main energy-saving practices proposed through SCIT, and so further significant reductions through behaviour changes were not likely. At the conclusion of the project, over half of the participants identified a range of barriers still preventing them from additional savings and are described herein. The project was successful in improving thermal comfort levels in participating homes, as demonstrated by over 76% of participants saying they felt cooler/more comfortable because of their involvement. Furthermore, it was found that non-energy benefits were valued higher than energy savings, and improvements in comfort were the most identified and highest rated of all benefits.
Keywords: energy; low income; tropical; behaviour change; barriers; non-energy benefits