3S WP 2012-16 Macrorie – The dynamics and governance of thermal comfort practices in low carbon housing

Ambitious government targets set an agenda to reduce domestic energy demand, however the leverage of policies in this domain is poorly understood. Considering a social housing development recently constructed in the east of England, designed to be operationally carbon neutral, this research focuses upon the role of low-carbon technologies in delivering a reduction in residential electricity consumption. Low-carbon technologies considered in this analysis include high thermal mass construction techniques, and installation of triple glazing, superinsulation, an air source heat pump & thermostatically controlled under floor heating system as well as a mechanical ventilation and heat recovery system. The paper analyses twelve qualitative householder interviews and audio tours in which everyday residential experiences, particularly of maintaining thermal comfort, were discussed. A comparative analysis is undertaken using domestication theory and theories of social practice as lenses with which to better understand the relationship between low-carbon technologies and less energy intensive thermal comfort practices. Recommendations for residential energy demand management and theoretical development are provided. 

Macrorie, R. (2012) The dynamics and governance of thermal comfort practices in low carbon housing: A comparative analysis of domestication theory and theories of social practice. 3S Working Paper 2012-16. Norwich: Science, Society and Sustainability Research Group.

3S WP 2012-16 Macrorie