Power up your knowledge: Exploring energy literacy of Finnish households

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School of Business | Master's thesis
Degree programme
Creative Sustainability
The demand for energy has surged in the last 50 years due to population growth and societal development. Nonetheless, this has led to increased greenhouse gas emissions and worsened climate change. Household energy use plays a significant role in this issue, necessitating a reduction in carbon emissions and promotion of energy conservation. Energy literacy, encompassing knowledge, attitudes, behavior, and information processing skills related to energy, is widely recognized as the foundation for change by academia. Given the importance of energy in today's world and the need for consumer involvement, it is crucial to enhance understanding of how households perceive energy, their competencies, and influencing factors. This is especially pertinent in Finland, where energy consumption is high and active consumer participation is essential to achieve the nation's ambitious carbon neutrality target. Thus, this thesis seeks to examine energy literacy and its current levels and availability among Finnish households and explore how these levels differ based on background variables. The research questions are: “What energy literacy dimensions and levels are exhibited among Finnish households?” and “How does energy literacy vary among Finns with respect to their sociodemographic (gender, age), socioeconomic variables (educational level), and dwelling characteristics (construction year and size)?” The study was conducted as quantitative research using an online questionnaire as a data collection method. The sample consisted of 4745 Finnish households, most of which were detached-house owners. The results were analyzed through descriptive (frequency tables and cross-tabulation) and inferential (one-way ANOVA) statistics. Furthermore, a principal component analysis was conducted to see how the survey items could be applied to energy literacy dimensions. The study uncovered promising findings regarding households' understanding of energy-related topics, their interest in acquiring more information, and their enthusiasm for energy renovations. Additionally, the households demonstrated a strong awareness of energy-related costs. However, the research also found deficiencies in energy literacy levels, indicating potential disparities across different background variables. Specifically, households expressed uncertainty in evaluating the reliability of energy-related information and where to seek energy advice. While they could identify some effective methods to reduce energy-related emissions and costs, there may be a lack of awareness regarding the most impactful strategies. Furthermore, analysis based on background variables highlighted, for example, that cognitive energy literacy was lower among women and individuals with limited education, and younger participants exhibited less awareness of their energy-related costs. Consequently, this thesis stresses the importance of energy companies and governmental institutions in educating citizens and providing easily accessible, understandable energy-related information. The thesis particularly emphasizes equality as a crucial focus area in energy-related matters and the importance of fostering energy literacy among all individuals.
Thesis advisor
Jalas, Mikko
Numminen, Sini
energy literacy, households, energy transition, sustainable consumption
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