Scottish scientists say: Live in smaller houses to reduce climate change

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Living in smaller homes could reduce the impact on climate change, new research shows.

Living in smaller homes could reduce the impact on climate change, new research shows.

Living in smaller homes could reduce the impact on climate change, new research shows.

Living in smaller homes could reduce the impact on climate change, new research shows.

Modern trends of families living in houses much larger than they actually need are putting additional pressure on the environment, scientists say.

Global trends show domestic space is increasing while household size is decreasing, with the main energy expenditure in homes for heating.

Boffins have said the best way for 'empty-nesters' to reduce energy expenditure is to take in lodgers or consider moving to a smaller house.

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But scientists acknowledged the downsides of living in smaller homes such as flats, included proximity to noisy neighbours and poor sound proofing.

A desire for privacy also prompted people to move into homes larger than they need, according to research from academics at the University of St Andrews.

A new study, published in Nature Energy, says that to meet climate targets, energy research and policy must therefore factor in changing trends in house size and household size.

It outlined why energy research must consider lifestyle expectations and demographic trends that are generally seen as outside the remit of energy policy.

Current trends of larger homes and fewer occupants are not addressed by government interventions of energy efficiency programmes and pro-environmental behaviour campaigns.

The research, led by Dr Katherine Ellsworth-Krebs at the School of Geography and Sustainable Development, University of St Andrews, highlights missed opportunities for governments to reduce energy demand.

Dr Katherine Ellsworth-Krebs said: "Household size decline has important energy implications and shifts in household size are an important determinant of energy consumption and carbon emissions.

"Ensuring housing offers basic necessities of shelter and privacy are essential yet increasing space per person has implications for energy.

"These trends beg the question: why do we need larger houses for smaller households?".

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