Energy choice models should indeed include behavioral factors. In this article – which appeared on Nature Climate Change – the authors argue that Agent Based Models can be a useful tool to represent human behavior as well as interactions between humans.

In Agent Based Models, the micro effects are represented to better understand the overall macro dynamics. This is important especially to simulate and evaluate policies, such as information campaigns, influencing energy related consumer choices. For instance the adoption of new technologies can be affected not only by monetary factors but also by social norms, past experiences, the perception of quality and the information provided. By accounting for these type of complexities in energy choice models, we can see how changes in behaviors can effectively reduce energy demand and how policies could effectively influence these factors.

In this sense, Agent Based Models are very promising as they are able to incorporate all these dynamics, but a key issue today is the possibility to validate these models:

Thus, whereas it is true that most ABM studies in this area can provide valuable information on individual interactions, weak empirical validation dampens the generation of specific policy insights, allowing only high-level policy recommendations to be made with confidence.

In Cobham we are trying to take this challenge and we are currently calibrating an agent based energy choice model which incorporates a household survey combined with metered electricity data. Drop us a line if you want to know more!