Research Items (8)
- May 2016
Energy prosumption has become a common phrase as more householders and communities are producing and consuming their own electricity and heat. Prosumption is a combination of two words: production and consumption, and emerged as a concept at a time when consumers were beginning to be more proactive and take over steps traditionally thought of as ‘production’. In many ways, energy prosumption is nothing new (e.g. wood combustion), yet development of our modern energy system has changed the relationships between energy producers and consumers (e.g. smart meters, renewable energy production). Thus, there is a growing body of research interested in the motivation and conditions for the uptake of microgeneration technologies and the implications to energy infrastructures and big energy producers. However, this ‘energy prosumption’ scholarship generally lacks a strong conceptual foundation and misses the opportunity to build on existing prosumption literature and related debates. This paper brings the wealth of literature on prosumption into the energy context and reflects on the insights offered by a prosumption lens. Our study explores a particular manifestation of prosumption – when a household is simultaneously a producer and consumer of their heat and/or electricity via microgeneration – and we present data from semi-structured interviews with 28 households living with microgeneration technologies in Scotland, UK. Thus, we provide a robust framework from which future research on household and community energy prosumption can build.
Domestic energy demand is a topical policy issue, with implications for climate change, energy vulnera-bility and security. Domestic energy demand varies considerably by country, climate, building type, and even when these factors are the same, occupancy patterns and inhabitant's lifestyles also create variation. However, clarifying understanding of the basic locus of analysis: the home, house, dwelling, or house-hold has received little attention to date, despite its relevance to debates on energy demand. This paper explores the theoretical and methodological assumptions of investigating the 'house' compared to the 'home' and the implications for domestic energy researchers. We suggest that the ontological priority given to the 'home' results in scholarship which considers both social and physical aspects that shape demand. Conversely, research prioritising the 'house' is dominated by techno-economic thinking, and overlooks critical social considerations. Recognising this important distinction, we conclude with a plea for scholars to be cognisant of ontology and language, and provide some suggestions for a future research agenda.
Home comfort is posited here as the state of relaxation and wellbeing that results from companionship and control to manage the home as desired. To date, studies of comfort have been dominated by building and natural scientists, laboratory settings and technical approaches, which understand comfort in physical, and primarily thermal, terms. Yet, the extensive research on the meaning and making of home by sociologists, human geographers, historians, anthropologists and philosophers highlights that there is much more to inhabitants’ expectations of the home than ensuring physiological ‘needs’ such as warmth. The home is imbued with emotional, social and cultural meaning, and is significant to individuals’ wellbeing in terms of it being (idealized as) a place of rest, family, continuity, control and security. For the first time, this paper brings together home and housing scholarship to conceptualize the findings of a qualitative study on the meanings of home comfort. In doing so, it offers a broad empirically and conceptually informed framework of home comfort and challenges the existing constrained notions and practices for the provision of comfort.
Within geography there has been considerable debate about the reasons, patterns and consequences of human behaviour. Behavioural science, specifically Nudge, and practice theories are fashionable fields of enquiry, reflecting a long history of conversation between behavioural and poststructuralist approaches. The purpose of this paper is to foster further engagement with and between these perspectives, bringing to the fore the relevant ontologies from which they arise. The paper is thus largely concerned with the ‘ontological politics’ of approaches seeking to understand human action and concludes with some reflections on an agenda for geography, a discipline well placed to unite disparate concepts.
- Dec 2017
International targets for emissions reduction are encouraging increasingly more households to become energy producers. We present analysis of Mumsnet, a UK online discussion forum (19 million visits/month), to explore unsolicited accounts of these energy prosumers to understand their motivation and experience of installing and living with one type of microgeneration technology: solar thermal panels for hot water. In so doing, we challenge research and policy approaches that assume financial and environmental motivations as dominant in householder uptake of microgeneration technology. We draw attention to the wider reality within which energy prosumption practices are performed, how they coincide with other home improvements, and how they relate to expectations about modern lifestyles. To conclude, we discuss the implications of this for policy.
Despite wide acknowledgement that many familiar ways of life are fundamentally unsustainable, home energy advice largely fails to engage with the tension between visions of desirable home life and saving energy. This paper reports on a qualitative study with 45 participants from 21 Scottish households that were recruited based on their efforts to reduce their energy demand. Yet half of this sample fell below, and half above, the national average spending for energy bills. Discussing understandings of home comfort with these householders reveals some limitations of the conventional focus on technical improvements and hints at why more of the sample did not fall below the national average as would be hoped. In particular, this study draws attention to householder’s expectations of the volume of domestic space required for a desirable home life as a crucial topic in energy research and policy. Space per person is a key determinant of energy demand but an area that has been relatively overlooked in energy research and this paper concludes with recommendations on how to expand the way in which energy saving at home is discussed and conceptualised.
- Jun 2015
Presentation at Scottish Government Climate Change Research Group's Seminar Series. June 2015
Awards & Achievements (1)
Award · Apr 2015
Housing Studies Association's Valerie Karn Memorial Prize