Peer-Reviewed Journal Details
Mandatory Fields
Rau, Henrike; Moran, Paul; Manton, Richard; Goggins, Jamie
Sustainable Cities And Society
Changing energy cultures? Household energy use before and after a building energy efficiency retrofit
Optional Fields
Government- and community-initiated energy retrofits of existing residential buildings abound across Europe. This paper argues that retrofitting initiatives need to extend their current emphasis on technical-material changes to include an equally strong focus on researching and potentially changing the energy-related expectations, aspirations and actual activities of those who inhabit and use these buildings. The concept of energy cultures serves as a useful heuristic to structure the analysis of household energy demand and internal environment. Covering three key elements of energy culture – 1) material conditions that relate directly to domestic energy use, 2) householders’ attitudes, perceptions and norms concerning the use of energy and 3) observable everyday practices that use energy –, and their interactions, we examine data from 20 households in a social housing estate in Ireland collected before and after retrofitting. Overall, the results highlight the urgent need for an integrated approach to energy retrofitting that combines technology-aided changes in material conditions with a parallel re-shaping of householders’ views and practices to achieve real and lasting reductions in energy use. The latter seems particularly pressing given both the persistence of many energy-intensive domestic activities and the possible emergence of rebound effects that have the potential to cancel out at least some of the savings made through retrofitting.
Grant Details
EU, Science Foundation Ireland (SFI)
The authors would like to acknowledge financial support from Science Foundation Ireland (Grant No. 13/CDA/2200), the European Unions Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme (Grant agreement No. 727642) and Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland for this research
Publication Themes