ThesisPDF Available

Creature comforts: an exploration of comfort in the home

Abstract and Figures

In response to climate change, there is a growing need for the UK to reduce carbon emissions in the domestic sector. As a majority of energy consumed within the domestic sector is as a result of space and water heating, research in the field focuses on thermal comfort. The literature on thermal comfort is dominated by an examination of the physiological aspects, and although the influences of psychological and socio-cultural aspects are often recognised, their relationship to the physiological aspects is not fully understood. Additionally, the literature typically studies various elements of comfort (e.g. thermal, acoustic, lighting, etc.) in isolation to each other rather than taking a holistic approach which would mirror how they are experienced in the real world and identify potential associations. As a result, this thesis explores the multi-dimensions of comfort in the domestic environment. This research begins by taking a user-centred approach to exploring UK householders perspectives of comfort in the home. Through interviewing householders, the findings revealed householders attributed a wide scope of factors to their own experience of comfort, from aesthetics to feeling secure in their home; the findings highlighted the significance of psychological factors to householders comfort. The following stage involved a focused and in-depth exploration of the psychological dimensions of domestic comfort through photo elicitation interviews. The findings supported the presence of four intertwined psychological dimensions and further established the multidimensional nature of comfort. The final study was conducted to establish when comfort and unwinding takes place in householders everyday lives. Through the use of two self-reporting ethnographic tools, namely SenseCams and diaries, householders were observed in their homes. The findings captured householders engaging in various comfort making activities and also demonstrated the value of using self-reporting tools in the home context. In the final stage, a classification of domestic comfort was generated which presents an accumulation of the findings from this research to produce a holistic and multi-dimensional notion of domestic comfort.
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Creature Comforts:
An Exploration of Comfort in the
Home
By
Andrea Burris
Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements
For the award of
Doctorate of philosophy of Loughborough University
© Andrea Burris 2014
i
Abstract
In response to climate change, there is a growing need for the UK to reduce carbon
emissions in the domestic sector. As a majority of energy consumed within the
domestic sector is as a result of space and water heating, research in the field
focuses on thermal comfort. The literature on thermal comfort is dominated by an
examination of the physiological aspects, and although the influences of
psychological and socio-cultural aspects are often recognised, their relationship to
the physiological aspects is not fully understood. Additionally, the literature
typically studies various elements of comfort (e.g. thermal, acoustic, lighting, etc.)
in isolation to each other rather than taking a holistic approach which would mirror
how they are experienced in the real world and identify potential associations.
As a result, this thesis explores the multi-dimensions of comfort in the domestic
environment. This research begins by taking a user-centred approach to exploring
UK householders’ perspectives of comfort in the home. Through interviewing
householders, the findings revealed householders attributed a wide scope of
factors to their own experience of comfort, from aesthetics to feeling secure in
their home; the findings highlighted the significance of psychological factors to
householders comfort. The following stage involved a focused and in-depth
exploration of the psychological dimensions of domestic comfort through photo
elicitation interviews. The findings supported the presence of four intertwined
psychological dimensions and further established the multidimensional nature of
comfort. The final study was conducted to establish when comfort and unwinding
takes place in householders’ everyday lives. Through the use of two self-reporting
ethnographic tools, namely SenseCams and diaries, householders were observed in
their homes. The findings captured householders engaging in various comfort
making activities and also demonstrated the value of using self-reporting tools in
the home context. In the final stage, a classification of domestic comfort was
generated which presents an accumulation of the findings from this research to
produce a holistic and multi-dimensional notion of domestic comfort.
ii
Acknowledgements
I would like to thank my supervisors Dr Victoria Haines and Dr Val Mitchell for their
guidance and support, and ensuring the contents of my brain became a coherent
thesis. I would also like to thank my PhD reviewer Dr Colette Nicolle, and
examiners Dr Phillip Brown and Dr Martin Maguire for their invaluable advice and
feedback which has helped to shape my thesis.
Thank you to all participants for contributing their time and effort in taking part in
this research, it literally couldn’t have happen without you. To all those who have
advised me throughout the research process and a special thank you to the
CALEBRE project research team. Thank you to my fellow PhD colleagues (past and
present) for their kind and supportive words and a special thank you to Becky and
Natalie, who remain a continual source of positivity.
A massive thank you to all my family and friends for their patience and
encouragement throughout this process. A special thank you to my parents,
Carmelita and Godfrey for the many ways they have supported me through the
years, my sister Selina for being someone I could always depend on, and my Great
Aunt Edna for giving me the opportunity to recharge and explore the world.
Finally, thank you to my good friends Zulehka, Karina and Mae for always being so
understanding and reminding me that there is more to life than the PhD!
iii
Table of Contents
Abstract ................................................................................................................................ i
Acknowledgements ............................................................................................................. ii
1 Introduction ................................................................................................................. 1
The Big Picture: Greenhouse Gases, Global Warming and Climate Change .......... 1 1.1
Efficiency, Conservation and Behaviour Change .................................................. 2 1.2
Energy and Comfort by Disciplines ....................................................................... 4 1.3
The Changing Concept of Comfort ....................................................................... 5 1.4
A Need for a User-Centred Approach to Domestic Comfort .................................6 1.5
Aims of the Research ...........................................................................................6 1.6
Thesis Structure ................................................................................................... 7 1.7
2 Literature Review....................................................................................................... 12
Introduction ....................................................................................................... 12 2.1
Defining Comfort ............................................................................................... 12 2.2
Dimensions of Comfort............................................................................... 14 2.2.1
Thermal Comfort ........................................................................................ 17 2.2.2
Comfort and Human Needs ........................................................................ 23 2.2.3
Domestic Comfort .............................................................................................. 27 2.3
The Meaning of Home ................................................................................ 27 2.3.1
Heijs and Stringer’s: Properties of a Dwelling ............................................. 30 2.3.2
Energy Use and Domestic Comfort by Disciplines .............................................. 34 2.4
Engineering and Technology ...................................................................... 34 2.4.1
Economics .................................................................................................. 35 2.4.2
Sociology .................................................................................................... 36 2.4.3
Psychology ................................................................................................. 38 2.4.4
Conclusions ........................................................................................................ 39 2.5
3 Research Paradigm .................................................................................................... 42
Philosophical Stance .......................................................................................... 42 3.1
Theoretical Perspectives .................................................................................... 45 3.2
Ethnography ............................................................................................... 45 3.2.1
Phenomenology ......................................................................................... 46 3.2.2
Theoretical Approach ................................................................................. 48 3.2.3
Methodological Approach .................................................................................. 48 3.3
Interpretive Phenomenology Approach ...................................................... 49 3.3.1
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User-Centred Approach .............................................................................. 53 3.3.2
Researcher’s Voice ......................................................................................... 54 3.3.3
Epistemological reflexivity.......................................................................... 55 3.3.4
Personal reflexivity ..................................................................................... 56 3.3.5
4 Methodology ............................................................................................................. 59
Research Purpose ............................................................................................... 59 4.1
Research Design ................................................................................................. 60 4.2
Research Strategy .............................................................................................. 61 4.3
Data Collection Techniques and Tools ................................................................ 62 4.4
Interviews ................................................................................................... 62 4.4.1
Focus groups .............................................................................................. 64 4.4.2
Photo Elicitation .........................................................................................66 4.4.3
Participant Observational Techniques ........................................................ 67 4.4.4
New Ecological Paradigm Scales ................................................................ 73 4.4.5
Data Analysis ..................................................................................................... 73 4.5
Qualitative Data Analysis Approaches ........................................................ 74 4.5.1
Quantitative Data Analysis ......................................................................... 77 4.5.2
Sampling Strategy ............................................................................................. 77 4.6
Validity of Research ........................................................................................... 78 4.7
Research Ethics .................................................................................................. 79 4.8
5 Exploring Householders’ Perspective of Comfort in the Home ................................... 82
Introduction ....................................................................................................... 82 5.1
Study Aims ......................................................................................................... 82 5.2
Rationale ............................................................................................................ 82 5.3
Methods ............................................................................................................. 83 5.4
Sampling ............................................................................................................ 83 5.5
Piloting............................................................................................................... 84 5.6
Design of Interview Questions............................................................................ 84 5.7
Ethics ................................................................................................................. 85 5.8
Equipment ......................................................................................................... 85 5.9
Interview procedure ........................................................................................... 85 5.10
Data Analysis ..................................................................................................... 85 5.11
Findings ............................................................................................................. 86 5.12
Household Characteristics .......................................................................... 87 5.12.1
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The Meaning of Comfort ............................................................................ 88 5.12.2
Creating Comfort........................................................................................ 97 5.12.3
Discussion ........................................................................................................ 109 5.13
The Environment and Physical Comfort ................................................... 110 5.13.1
Aesthetics and Perceptions of Space and Order ....................................... 113 5.13.2
Psychological Wellbeing ........................................................................... 114 5.13.3
Interactions and Activities ........................................................................ 115 5.13.4
Reflections................................................................................................ 115 5.13.5
Conclusions ...................................................................................................... 117 5.14
6 Household Profiles ................................................................................................... 120
7 Insights into Comfort and Daily Routines ................................................................. 126
Introduction ..................................................................................................... 126 7.1
Study Aims ....................................................................................................... 127 7.2
Study Rationale ................................................................................................ 127 7.3
Methods ........................................................................................................... 127 7.4
Sampling .......................................................................................................... 129 7.5
Piloting............................................................................................................. 130 7.6
Design and Procedure of the Focus Groups ...................................................... 130 7.7
Ethics ............................................................................................................... 131 7.8
Equipment ....................................................................................................... 131 7.9
Data Analysis ................................................................................................... 132 7.10
NEP Scale ................................................................................................. 132 7.10.1
Findings ........................................................................................................... 132 7.11
Background Information ........................................................................... 132 7.11.1
Household Information ............................................................................. 133 7.11.2
NEP Scale ................................................................................................. 134 7.11.3
Findings .................................................................................................... 135 7.11.4
Discussion ........................................................................................................ 142 7.12
7.12.1.1 Reflections ............................................................................................ 143
8 Exploring Psychological Dimensions of Comfort in the Home .................................. 146
Introduction ..................................................................................................... 146 8.1
Study Aims ....................................................................................................... 146 8.2
Study Rationale ................................................................................................ 147 8.3
Methods ........................................................................................................... 148 8.4
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Sampling .......................................................................................................... 149 8.5
Piloting............................................................................................................. 149 8.6
Design of the study .......................................................................................... 150 8.7
Ethics ............................................................................................................... 151 8.8
Equipment ....................................................................................................... 152 8.9
Procedure ........................................................................................................ 152 8.10
Data Analysis ................................................................................................... 153 8.11
Findings ........................................................................................................... 155 8.12
Background Information ........................................................................... 155 8.12.1
Four Factors of Comfort ........................................................................... 156 8.12.2
Interactive Comfort .................................................................................. 157 8.12.3
Personalisation Comfort ........................................................................... 165 8.12.4
Facilitative Comfort .................................................................................. 170 8.12.5
Perceptual Comfort .................................................................................. 176 8.12.6
Beyond the Psychological Dimensions of Comfort ................................... 181 8.12.7
Discussion ........................................................................................................ 185 8.13
Interactive Comfort .................................................................................. 185 8.13.1
Personalisation Comfort ........................................................................... 187 8.13.2
Facilitative Comfort .................................................................................. 188 8.13.3
Perceptual Comfort .................................................................................. 190 8.13.4
Psychological Dimensions and Thermal Comfort ..................................... 191 8.13.5
Summary Psychological Dimensions ........................................................ 192 8.13.6
Restrictions, Hindrances and Constraints on Comfort .............................. 193 8.13.7
Reflections................................................................................................ 193 8.13.8
Conclusions ...................................................................................................... 195 8.14
9 Capturing Comfort in Context .................................................................................. 197
Introduction ..................................................................................................... 197 9.1
Comfort in Context .......................................................................................... 197 9.2
Study Aims ....................................................................................................... 199 9.3
Rationale .......................................................................................................... 199 9.4
Methods ........................................................................................................... 200 9.5
Sampling .......................................................................................................... 202 9.6
Piloting............................................................................................................. 202 9.7
Design of Study ................................................................................................ 202 9.8
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Ethical Considerations ...................................................................................... 203 9.9
Equipment ....................................................................................................... 203 9.10
Procedure ........................................................................................................ 204 9.11
Data Analysis ................................................................................................... 205 9.12
Comparing Observational Tools ............................................................... 205 9.12.1
Identifying Comfort Activities ................................................................... 206 9.12.2
Validity of Data ......................................................................................... 207 9.12.3
Participant Information .................................................................................... 208 9.13
Findings ........................................................................................................... 209 9.14
Comfort in Daily Routines ......................................................................... 210 9.14.1
Capturing in Context ................................................................................ 216 9.14.2
Discussion ........................................................................................................ 230 9.15
Comfort in Daily Routines ......................................................................... 230 9.15.1
Capturing in Context ................................................................................ 232 9.15.2
Reflections................................................................................................ 234 9.15.3
Conclusions ...................................................................................................... 236 9.16
10 Discussion: A Classification of Domestic Comfort ................................................ 239
Introduction ..................................................................................................... 239 10.1
Classifying Domestic Comfort .......................................................................... 239 10.2
Meaning of Comfort at Home ................................................................... 240 10.2.1
The Home Environment ........................................................................... 242 10.2.2
Comfort Experience .................................................................................. 247 10.2.3
The Bigger Picture ............................................................................................ 252 10.3
Reflections ....................................................................................................... 254 10.4
11 Conclusions and Future Work ............................................................................... 257
Conclusions ...................................................................................................... 257 11.1
Objective 1 ............................................................................................... 257 11.1.1
Objective 2 ............................................................................................... 258 11.1.2
Objective 3 ............................................................................................... 258 11.1.3
Objective 4 ............................................................................................... 260 11.1.4
Objective 5 ............................................................................................... 261 11.1.5
Objective 6 ............................................................................................... 262 11.1.6
Contributions to knowledge ............................................................................. 263 11.2
viii
The identification of wide scope of dimensions attributed to domestic 11.2.1
comfort 263
An exploration of the psychological dimensions of comfort ..................... 263 11.2.2
Generating a classification of domestic comfort ....................................... 263 11.2.3
Research Publications ............................................................................... 263 11.2.4
Limitations to Research ................................................................................... 264 11.3
Time and Resources ................................................................................. 264 11.3.1
Future Work ..................................................................................................... 264 11.4
Identifying Negotiable Factors of Comfort ............................................... 265 11.4.1
Working Tool ............................................................................................ 265 11.4.2
12 References ........................................................................................................... 267
13 Appendices .......................................................................................................... 280
APPENDIX A ................................................................................................................ 281
APPENDIX B ................................................................................................................ 285
APPENDIX C ................................................................................................................ 287
APPENDIX D ................................................................................................................ 289
APPENDIX E ................................................................................................................ 293
APPENDIX F ................................................................................................................ 295
APPENDIX G ................................................................................................................ 331
List of Figures
Figure 1: Outline of Thesis ................................................................................................. 10
Figure 2: Thermal Comfort Model from Fanger (ISSO74) ................................................... 20
Figure 3: Psycho-Physiological Model of Thermal Comfort from Auliciems (1981) ............. 22
Figure 4: Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs (1970) .................................................................... 24
Figure 5 - Research Paradigm ............................................................................................ 55
Figure 6 - Research Paradigm ............................................................................................ 61
Figure 7: Vicon Revue Camera (Microsoft Research) .......................................................... 68
Figure 8: Excerpt of coding from NVivo ............................................................................. 86
Figure 9: Meaning of Comfort Data Map ........................................................................... 90
Figure 10: Creation of Comfort Data Map ..........................................................................99
Figure 11: Different Data Collection Techniques and Knowledge (Visser et al. 2005) ....... 128
Figure 12: Participant NEP Scores.................................................................................... 135
Figure 13: Pauline Day-In-The-Life Exercise ..................................................................... 140
Figure 14: Kevin Day-In-The-Life Exercise ....................................................................... 140
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Figure 15: Participants Record Book ................................................................................ 151
Figure 16: Study 3 Stages of Data Collection ................................................................... 153
Figure 17: Maria, Bedroom, Interactive Comfort .............................................................. 157
Figure 18: Jessica, Bathroom, Interactive Comfort........................................................... 158
Figure 19: Eva, Dining, Interactive Comfort ..................................................................... 158
Figure 20: Rachael, Bathroom, Interactive Comfort ......................................................... 159
Figure 21: Olivia, Bathroom, Interactive Comfort ............................................................ 159
Figure 22: Kevin, Study, Interactive Comfort ................................................................... 160
Figure 23: Pauline, Living Room, Interactive Comfort ...................................................... 161
Figure 24: Eva, Dining Area, Interactive Comfort ............................................................. 161
Figure 25: Jessica, Kitchen, Interactive Comfort .............................................................. 162
Figure 26: Walter, Living Room, Interactive Comfort ....................................................... 162
Figure 27: Kevin, Back Room, Interactive Comfort ........................................................... 163
Figure 28: Kevin, Kitchen, Interactive Comfort ................................................................ 163
Figure 29: Pauline, Dining Room, Interactive Comfort ..................................................... 164
Figure 30: Maria, Living Room, Personalisation Comfort ................................................. 165
Figure 31: Olivia, Study Room, Personalisation Comfort .................................................. 166
Figure 32: Pauline, Hallway, Personalisation Comfort ...................................................... 168
Figure 33: Kevin, Kitchen, Personalisation Comfort ......................................................... 168
Figure 34: Walter, Shed, Personalisation Comfort ........................................................... 169
Figure 35: Mike,Conservatory, Facilitative Comfort ......................................................... 171
Figure 36: Pauline, Dining Room, Facilitative Comfort ..................................................... 172
Figure 37: Jessica, Conservatory, Facilitative Comfort ..................................................... 173
Figure 38: Lewis, Bedroom, Facilitative Comfort ............................................................. 173
Figure 39: Eva, Living Area, Facilitative Comfort ............................................................. 174
Figure 40: Olivia, Kitchen Cupboard, Facilitative Comfort ............................................... 174
Figure 41: Pauline, Living Room, Facilitative Comfort ..................................................... 175
Figure 42: Walter, Garden, Facilitative Comfort .............................................................. 175
Figure 43: Rachael, Bedroom, Perceptual Comfort ...........................................................177
Figure 44: Walter, Living Room, Perceptual Comfort .......................................................177
Figure 45: Eva, Living Room, Perceptual Comfort............................................................ 178
Figure 46: Jessica, Bedroom, Perceptual Comfort ........................................................... 178
Figure 47: Pauline, Conservatory, Perceptual Comfort .................................................... 179
Figure 48: Olivia, Living Room, Perceptual Comfort ........................................................ 179
Figure 49: Jessica, Conservatory, Perceptual Comfort ..................................................... 180
Figure 50: Study 4 Stages of Data Collection ................................................................... 205
Figure 51: Sarah, Diary Day 1 ........................................................................................... 207
Figure 52: Walter, Diary Day 3 ......................................................................................... 211
Figure 53: Maria, Diary Day 3 ........................................................................................... 212
Figure 54: Maria, SenseCam, Time 19:30 ......................................................................... 212
Figure 55: Olivia, SenseCam, Time 22:56 ......................................................................... 213
Figure 56: Mike, SenseCam, Time 20:09 .......................................................................... 214
Figure 57: Pauline, Diary Day 2 ........................................................................................ 214
Figure 58: Kevin, SenseCam, Time 20:27 ......................................................................... 215
Figure 59: Lewis, SenseCam, Time 19:57 ......................................................................... 216
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Figure 60: Rachael’s Garden, Maria’s Living Room, Olivia’s Lving Room, Walter’s Kitchen
........................................................................................................................................ 219
Figure 61: Vicon Revue Desktop Software Screenshot..................................................... 220
Figure 62: Sequence 1-6, Kevin, Eating Dinner ................................................................ 221
Figure 63: Kevin, Diary Day 3 .......................................................................................... 221
Figure 64: Lewis Using Phone, Walter Using a Remote Control ....................................... 222
Figure 65: Eva, Diary Day 1 .............................................................................................. 222
Figure 66: Sequence 1-6, Walter Multitasking ................................................................. 223
Figure 67: Walter, Diary Day 1 ......................................................................................... 224
Figure 68: Kevin, Listening to Music ................................................................................ 224
Figure 69: Maria, Adjusting the Thermostat on the Heater .............................................. 225
Figure 70: Rachael, Lying on the Sofa and Maria Curled up on the Sofa ........................... 226
Figure 71: Rachael, Diary Day 3 ........................................................................................ 226
Figure 72: Jessica, Unwinding .......................................................................................... 227
Figure 73: Rachael, Diary Day 2 ........................................................................................ 227
Figure 74: Mike, Shared Viewing ...................................................................................... 228
Figure 75: Jessica, Olivia and Rachael Using Smart Phones .............................................. 229
Figure 76: Pauline, Diary Day 2 ........................................................................................ 230
Figure 77: Sade, Diary Day 2 ............................................................................................ 230
Figure 78: Classification of Comfort ................................................................................. 240
List of Tables
Table 1: Bedford Comfort Scale and ASHRAE Scale .......................................................... 19
Table 2: Immersive Focus Group Tools .............................................................................. 65
Table 3: Summary of Advantages and Disadvantages of Wearable Cameras as
Observational Tools .......................................................................................................... 72
Table 4: Summary of the Advantages and Disadvantages of Self-Reporting Diaries ......... 73
Table 5: Guide to Conducting a Thematic Analysis ............................................................ 75
Table 6: Conducting a Template Analysis .......................................................................... 76
Table 7: Study 1 Participant Information ............................................................................ 87
Table 8: Focus Group Process .......................................................................................... 131
Table 9: Study 2 Participant Information ......................................................................... 133
Table 10: Participants Comfort Activity Summaries......................................................... 141
Table 11: Guidance for Photo Elicitation Method ............................................................. 150
Table 12: Study 4 Initial Coding Template ....................................................................... 154
Table 13: Participant Information for Study 3 ................................................................... 156
Table 14: Number of Participants Working at Home ........................................................ 208
Table 15: Participant Information .................................................................................... 209
xi
Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: Literature Review
Chapter 3: Research Paradigm
Chapter 4: Methodology
Chapter 5: Exploring Householders’ Perspective of Comfort in the
Home
Chapter 6: Household Profiles
Chapter 7: Insights into Comfort and Daily Routines
Chapter 8: Exploring Psychological Dimensions of Comfort in the
Home
Chapter 9: Capturing Comfort in Context
Chapter 10: Discussion: A Classification of Domestic Comfort
Chapter 11: Conclusions and Future Work
Chapter 12: References
Chapter 13: Appendices
1
Introduction 1
The Big Picture: Greenhouse Gases, Global Warming and 1.1
Climate Change
Climate change is a recognised global issue caused by the build-up of greenhouse
gases (predominantly carbon dioxide) trapping heat near the Earth’s surface
causing the planet to gradually get warmer. In 1992, the United Nations
Framework Conventions for Climate Change (UNFCCC) developed the Kyoto
Protocol, a binding agreement that sets out carbon emission limitations and
commitments for (as of March 2014) 192 countries across the world, including the
UK showing the growing acknowledgement of the issue of climate change
(UNFCCC n.d.). The UK government passed the Climate Change Act in 2008 which
puts into place targets to cut carbon emissions by 80% by 2050 against a 1990
baseline); the government is expecting to make a majority of cuts to UK carbon
emissions before 2020. A number of policies and schemes are now in place to
encourage more energy efficient measures across the transport, industry, services
and domestic sectors (Palmer et al. 2012). This research is specifically focused on
the impact of climate change on the domestic sector.
The domestic sector is responsible for over a quarter of the overall energy
consumed in the UK, for this reason domestic energy consumption is a major focus
for introducing energy efficiency measures. Although climate change is slowly
warming the Earth much of the required initiatives to cut carbon emissions in the
domestic sector concentrate on the issue of space heating. Statistics released by
the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) indicate that over 60% of
energy consumed in the home is through space heating, and this has remained the
dominant use of energy since 1970 (Palmer et al. 2012). The housing stock in
England is one of the oldest in Europe, 8.8 million dwellings were built before 1945
and more than half of these were built pre-1919, consequently there is a significant
number of dwellings which are not particularly energy efficient, losing heat energy
through poor insulation or inefficient heating systems (DCLG 2009). With this in
2
mind, the government is eager for occupants to carry out energy efficiency home
improvements, and therefore preserve the older housing stock (DECC 2012). The
government are also introducing energy conservation measures on a national scale
to encourage behaviour change towards reduced consumption.
Efficiency, Conservation and Behaviour Change 1.2
The government have introduced a number of initiatives in recent years to
encourage retrofitting, the most recent scheme is the Green Deal, designed to help
improve the efficiencies of homes by providing householders with a loan for
improvements such as cavity insulation, installing a new condensing boiler, or
renewable energy technologies such as solar panels (DECC n.d.). DECC (2012) have
estimated that energy efficient heating systems and wall and loft insulation has
saved more than 40 million tonnes of oil equivalent. Efficiency measures like the
aforementioned allow occupants to maintain comfort levels without necessarily
adapting their behaviour in any way. Though research has shown that occupant
behaviour towards space heating has changed over the past forty years, in winter,
homes are now on average running 4.9°C higher than they were in 1970 at 16.9°C;
this does not inversely mirror external temperature which have only decreased by
1.5°C from 5.8°C to 4.3°C in 2010 (Palmer et al. 2012). Parallels can be drawn with
the principles behind the practice of adaptive thermal comfort, which recognises
that people have different expectations for indoor temperatures depending on
external weather conditions. Most research to date in this area has been conducted
in relation to non-residential buildings where standards have restricted indoor
temperatures to lie within narrow margins irrespective of external weather
conditions, although research has shown occupants actually desire varied indoor
temperatures, that being, warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer
(Auliciems 1981; Nicol & Humphreys 2002; Nicol & Stevenson 2013). Occupants
adapt as a result of their thermal environment, these adaptions normally fall into
three categories behavioural adjustments such as removing or putting on clothes,
physiological adaption such as acclimatization and psychological adaptions based
on past thermal experiences and expectations for present environment. The
3
research into adaptive thermal comfort is vital in the context of climate change and
could potentially offer new approaches to occupant comfort in the home.
The rise in internal temperatures seen in dwellings during winter could be as a
result of the energy efficiency rebound or take-back effect. The roots of this
phenomenon lie in behavioural economics; research has indicated that the
installation of energy efficient technologies can increase energy use as occupants
offset the savings by increasing their consumption. In terms of space heating
research has shown that the rebound can be between 10-30% of the efficiency
savings therefore the energy efficiency measure is between 70-90% effective. It has
also been found where the rebound effect has occurred as a result of space heating
there has also been an increase in the thermal comfort of occupants (Greening et al.
2000). Although there is sufficient evidence that the rebound effect does exist, why
it occurs is still largely unexplained, most research to date has been conducted by
consumer psychologists across disciplines of economy and psychology, with their
focus mainly on purchase-related behaviours and estimating the size of the
rebound as opposed to further understanding of householders behavioural
response to energy efficiency technologies.
The occurrence of energy conservation actions in the home requires some form of
behaviour change on the part of the householder. Another major government
initiative is to provide all UK homes with smart meters in the next ten years. Smart
meters are a socio-technical feedback intervention, the government believe by
providing householders with real-time direct feedback, they will gain a greater
understanding of their energy use and greater control over how energy is used in
their home. It is hoped smart meters will reduce peak energy demand and
encourage users to carry out high energy activities at off-peak times (i.e. using the
washing machine between midnight and 7am). It is expected that smart meters will
have a low-impact on energy savings; estimations presented by Darby (2010) from
an accumulation of the literature report that smart meters will save householders,
on average, only 5-15%. The success of this relies heavily on householder’s
engagement with the interface and the attitudes towards financial savings and/or
conserving energy, which all drives into their willingness to change their behaviour.
4
The effectiveness of smart meters in energy conservation on a long-term basis is
yet unknown as research is still in the early stages, yet it is clear that in order to
achieve behaviour change on a national scale, the government cannot afford to be
purely device-orientated; they must understand the socio-psychological aspects of
behaviour towards energy technologies (Boardman 2004; COI 2009; Darby 2006;
Lutzenhiser 1992).
Energy and Comfort by Disciplines 1.3
The main body of literature on people and energy in the home falls into four main
categories: engineering, economics, psychology and sociology; they all make their
own contributions to knowledge usually recognising that it is only a fragment of
the bigger picture. The following gives a brief overview of each discipline’s focus in
terms of energy use. Engineering and technical disciplines tend to focus on the
installation of energy efficient technologies (e.g. cavity walls), they focus on the
physiological comfort of the occupant through quantitative measures, with the
broad assumption that the human will engage with energy technologies as they
were designed. The economists’ research provides price signals, information of
energy consumption and purchase-related energy efficient devices (e.g. energy
efficient washing machines) (de Haan et al. 2006). Although the actions of the
human are not the focus of their research the human is the consumer and is
considered to be rational in behaviour and with the choices he or she makes in
regards to energy efficient purchases and/or consumption. The psychological
literature offers an insight into householders’ behaviour and in more recent years
behaviour change towards actions which conserve energy. The psychological
perspective on energy follows the often ABC model for behaviour change. The ABC
model refers to the (A) attitudes people have towards energy consumption which
leads inevitably to their (B) behaviour and their (C) choices whether to carry out
energy conserving activities (Shove 2010). The sociological literature focuses on
the role energy plays in our society; arguing that the individual behaviour is as a
result of our intensive energy consuming society, driven to this state by cultural
influences and social norms (Shove 2003b).
5
Most research in the area of people and energy use has followed a “divide-and-
control” approach (Moezzi & Lutzenhiser 2010, p.210) where disciplines follow their
own agenda to solving the many issues of energy consumption; whilst
inadvertently forming barriers to understanding the whole picture. This seems
particularly critical in the approach towards the issue of thermal heating in UK
homes. The technical school of thought estimates the savings in carbon emissions
but may fail to account for the unpredictable behaviour of the householders; while
the psychologists may recognise their consumptive behaviour as being comfort
driven, they may miss the cultural and societal drivers of householder’s behaviours.
The Changing Concept of Comfort 1.4
With space heating being responsible for the largest portion of energy
consumption in the home, it is clear that thermal comfort is key in the
implementation of energy reductive measures. Consequently the literature
focuses heavily on the contributions from technical disciplines to thermal comfort,
often drawing from the standards used in commercial buildings (a macro-level
systems of control); however these do not necessarily translate to thermal comfort
in the domestic environment which householders control (a micro-level system)
(Pierce et al. 2010). Cole et al. (2008) argues for the need to ‘re-contextualise the
notion of comfort’ within the climate change debate, he draws upon the roles of
psychology and sociology in adding further dimensions to the concept of comfort
in technical research. Contributions to this debate from Elizabeth Shove, a
sociologist, have been paramount; she describes comfort “as a dynamic enterprise,
the achievement of comfort is here understood as a creative process of trading,
juggling & manipulation, whether of clothes, activity and daily routine or of
building technologies.” (Shove 2003b, p.37). Shove’s definition moves away from
the traditional passive ideals of comfort and highlights its multifaceted nature
which this research aims to explore further. With the focus on thermal comfort the
other aspects of comfort, for instance, acoustic or postural comfort are not
considered in the climate change debate as their contribution to energy
consumption are undetermined. The research acknowledges the need for a more
6
interdisciplinary approach to comfort potentially to provide new insights into the
phenomenon which is comfort.
A Need for a User-Centred Approach to Domestic Comfort 1.5
Current researchers acknowledge the need to change the approach to comfort
research in order to understand the relationship between domestic comfort and
energy use (Moezzi & Lutzenhiser 2010). This research will take a user-centred
approach to examining comfort in the home, which focuses around three main
factors, for the following reasons:
User: As stated above, householders’ behaviour has contributed to rising
indoor temperatures, an inevitable increase in carbon emissions and the
rebound effect. Taking an approach which focuses on understanding the
householders’ experience of comfort could offer valuable insights into the
behaviour behind these unwelcomed trends.
Task/Activities: Comfort is a multidimensional phenomenon, individual
householders are likely to associate varying meaning and experiences to
different tasks carried out in the home and so a user-centred approach
offers the necessary perspective to explore householders’ comfort activities.
The Environment: Unlike a majority of building comfort research, the
domestic domain is personal, intimate and controlled by the householder.
Therefore understanding comfort within the householder’s environment
would benefit from a user-centred approach (Shackel 1991).
Aims of the Research 1.6
The purpose of this research was to investigate the multiple dimensions of comfort
in the home and generate a holistic classification of domestic comfort. The aim of
this research will be met by fulfilling the following objectives:
Identify the multiple dimensions of comfort through an extensive review of
the literature in the context of the domestic environment.
7
Explore the range of dimensions of comfort in the home from the
perspectives of householders in a sample of UK homes.
Investigate the key psychological dimensions of comfort from the
perspective of householders.
Determine when comfort making takes place at home in the everyday lives
of householders’.
Examine different self-reporting data collection tools for exploring comfort
activities in the context of the home environment.
Develop a holistic classification of domestic comfort based on the literature
and findings from the research.
Thesis Structure 1.7
This thesis is structured into thirteen chapters; the purpose of each chapter is
outlined below, chapter 1 has been used to introduce the context of this research
and outline the approach, aims and objectives.
Chapter 2: Literature Review
This chapter sets the scene for the forthcoming research; it provides an overview of
the current literature and outlines the gap in research which will be addressed by
this research.
Chapter 3: Research Paradigm
The research paradigm chapter sets out the philosophical stance taken in this
inquiry. It presents the beliefs of the investigator and the chosen theoretical
perspective which have in turn shaped the methodological approach.
Chapter 4: Methodology
This chapter presents the research approach, methodology, and methods which
are implemented in the data collection process, together with the data analysis
techniques to examine the findings.
8
Chapter 5: HouseholdersPerspective of Domestic Comfort
This chapter describes a study (study 1) that was conducted to explore the
phenomenon of comfort from the perspectives of a sample of UK householders,
through interviews. Details of householders understanding and their experience of
comfort are presented in order to begin to form an understanding of the multiple
dimensions of domestic comfort.
Chapter 6: Household profiles
This chapter provides short pen portrait descriptions of the participants who took
part in studies 2, 3 and 4 to assist in interpreting references to each person in the
text.
Chapter 7: Insights into Comfort and Daily Routines
This chapter reports on a focus group study (study 2) designed to gain valuable
insights into the comfort activities of householders within their daily home lives.
The data gathered through this study will be used to identify the potential comfort
making activities of the participants in study 4 (see chapter 9: capturing comfort in
context). This study, although brief, provided the opportunity to give of all
participants’ further details of two following studies, reported in the next two
chapters.
Chapter 8: Exploring the psychological dimensions of comfort in the home
In this chapter, study 3 is described which was designed for householders to
capture their understanding of comfort, shaped through taxonomy of domestic
comfort developed by Heijs and Stringer (Heijs & Stringer 1987) is reported.
Participants from the focus group study were set tasks to help identify the social
and psychological dimensions of domestic comfort in more detail.
Chapter 9: Capturing Comfort in Context
This chapter presents study 4 examines daily routines of the cohort of participants
to see what role comfort plays. Self-reporting observational tools were used to try
to capture the everyday activities of the householders. This study also reflects on
9
whether self-reporting observational tools can be used to capture the intimate and
personal comfort activities of householders.
Chapter 10: Discussion
This chapter presents the cumulative findings of the previous chapters within a
classification of domestic comfort. The overall research, and how it was conducted,
is discussed.
Chapter 11: Conclusion
This chapter focuses on how this research can be used to move the topic of comfort
and energy further in the future.
Chapter 12: References
This chapter lists the references cited in the thesis.
Chapter 13: Appendices
This section presents the materials used in the four studies.
Figure 1 shows an outline of the different chapters of the thesis.
10
Figure 1: Outline of Thesis
11
Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: Literature Review
Chapter 3: Research Paradigm
Chapter 4: Methodology
Chapter 5: Exploring Householders’ Perspective of Comfort in the
Home
Chapter 6: Household Profiles
Chapter 7: Insights into Comfort and Daily Routines
Chapter 8: Exploring Psychological Dimensions of Comfort in the
Home
Chapter 9: Capturing Comfort in Context
Chapter 10: Discussion: A Classification of Domestic Comfort
Chapter 11: Conclusions and Future Work
Chapter 12: References
Chapter 13: Appendices
12
Literature Review 2
Introduction 2.1
This chapter will present an overview of the literature from the relevant fields of
research. The aim of the literature review is to identify the multiple dimensions of
comfort in the context of the domestic environment.
Defining Comfort 2.2
Whilst the Collins dictionary simply defines comfort as 'a state of physical ease or
wellbeing'; the word comfort can be considered to have a broad and flexible
application across the literature. For centuries the word 'comfort' was
predominantly associated with moral and spiritual support during difficult times, it
was during the eighteenth century that the meaning of comfort for Anglo-
Americans became based upon 'physical comfort' described as a 'self-conscious
satisfaction with the relationship between one's body and its immediate physical
environment.' This form of physical comfort gave birth to a new material culture
where there was a growing desire for items such as home furnishings to provide
occupants with satisfaction from their surroundings (Crowley 1999). It was during
the nineteenth century the word comfort was related to environmental aspects and
the physiological state.
However definitions of comfort from environmental and physiological fields vary in
emphasis. Brager and De Dear describe comfort as an 'the absence of discomfort'
(2003, p.178), they consider this to be an engineering definition, as the focus of
comfort research is typically to eliminate discomfort. In thermal comfort, standard
body ASHRAE define comfort as a ‘condition of mind which expresses satisfaction
with the thermal environment’ which recognises the psychological nature of
comfort (ASHARE 1966 cited in; Parsons 2003, p.196).
The field of nursing research also finds it challenging to agree on an overarching
definition of comfort although frequently the dominating factor of nursing research
(Morse et al. 1994). Nursing research focuses on three meanings of comfort, the
13
first is comfort as a comfort state an absence of pain, secondly, comfort to mean
peacefulness and contentment and thirdly, comfort as relief from pain (Kolcaba &
Kolcaba 1991).
Generally, there is an acknowledgement of a lack of clear definition in regards to
comfort across and within disciplines, this often leads to the acceptance of a broad
definition or list of assumptions on the topic Looze, Kuijt-Evers and van Dieën
make three assumptions of comfort before reporting on sitting comfort they state
‘1) comfort is a construct of a subjectively-defined personal nature; 2) comfort is
affected by factors of various nature (physical, physiological, psychological) and 3)
comfort is a reaction to the environment (2003, p.986). These three assumptions
encompass several aspects of the definitions previously stated; it draws upon the
relationship between state of mind and the environment as a result of various
factors.
Defining comfort by discipline inevitably focuses on certain aspects which are
significant to the field in questions, although Bissell (2008) attempts to offer a
three-tiered definition, each definition encompassing the previous. Firstly comfort
in an objective capacity, which refers to the comfort which can be experienced
through the surroundings and the objects people engage with. It can be considered
as a prescribed notion of comfort through sets of dimensions, measurements or
scales carefully formulated to create comfort, i.e. chair design. Comfort as an
aesthetics sensibility is described as a sense of feeling wholly satisfied with the
surrounding environmental conditions; this refers more directly to the sensation
the body feels to the surroundings and objects. Thirdly, comfort as a specific
affective resonance, Bissell describes this as a form of comfort which moves
between body and object, it is the type of comfort which embodies the two
previous definitions to create a comfortable experience which encompasses a
number of aspects such as the tactile, thermal, visual, and the audio.
Attempting to accept one overarching definition of comfort which satisfies all uses
of the term is an impossible task, rather acknowledging its diversification and
flexibility through research is more fitting to the exploratory nature of this research.
14
The definition of comfort will be revisited throughout the literature review, through
the various perspectives of related fields.
Dimensions of Comfort 2.2.1
The literature dedicated to the topic of comfort is both vast and multi-dimensional;
comfort is a large part of lives affecting our work, our travel and our home life. This
is reflected in the varied aspects of comfort studied. The elements which contribute
to whole-body comfort are not fully understood are thought to be very complex
(Bissell 2008). In a search of scientific databases it is clear most research exists in
field of thermal comfort above other areas such as acoustic comfort,
vibration/shock comfort and physical comfort (Vink, de Looze, et al. 2005).
Although these areas of comfort to an extent standalone from one another, they
are alike in the sense they strive to understand how individuals are affected and
interact with their surrounding environment. Traditionally comfort can be viewed
as consisting of eight elements both physiological and psychological in nature (Vink,
Overbeeke, et al. 2005). These are as follows:
1. Temperature/humidity
5. Smell
2. Pressure/touch
6. Visual input
3. Posture/movement
7. History
4. Noise
8. State
The eight elements are described as being interrelated, however the nature of the
relationship is unknown and to what extent they lead to the experience of comfort,
discomfort, or no discomfort. Research of each of the eight elements identified
above will be briefly discussed.
2.2.1.1 Thermal comfort
Thermal comfort is defined as ‘the condition of mind that expresses satisfaction
with the thermal environment’ (ASHARE 1966 cited in; Parsons 2003, p.196).
Thermal comfort is achieved when the body is in heat balance, sweat rate and
mean skin temperature are both within the comfort limits, and there is an absence
of thermal discomfort. Extensive research into the optimum thermal comfort
15
conditions is the basis of comfort standards used in non-residential buildings today.
They have resulted in rigid comfort standards which depend almost exclusively on
the use of heating, ventilation and air conditioning (hereafter HVAC) systems for
achieving thermal comfort (Brager & De Dear 2003). There is more to thermal
comfort than objective parameters; however these factors being subjective in
nature can be difficult to measure. Thermal comfort is examined in greater detail in
section 2.2.2.
2.2.1.2 Pressure/touch
Pressure is generally studied in terms of sitting comfort, the physical comfort of
seating will depend on the chair, the environment and the time spent sitting. The
pressure from the seat can have significant effects on the body's joints, blood
circulation and tissue. In a study by de Looze (2003) examining sitting comfort and
identifying the best objective indicators for subjective ratings, he found pressure
distribution showed the most correlation with comfort and discomfort ratings, and
as a result was the best indicator of sitting comfort.
2.2.1.3 Posture/movement
The study of posture is an important part of ergonomics; whether the task is
operating a work station or driving a vehicle, establishing the best posture for
different task can prevent health problems and improve the user’s experience.
Designing for different sizes, shapes and body compositions can be a challenge;
anthropometric data will normally be used to design for those between the 5th and
95th percentiles, excluding only the smallest and largest of the population. With
such a wide range of sizes to accommodate for, often the designer will design for
adjustability. Anthropometric data can only take a design so far, it is often valuable
to complete user trials to establish how other factors such as comfort affect the
user (Porter & Porter 2001).
16
2.2.1.4 Noise
Acoustic comfort is achieved when wanted sounds are enhanced and unwanted
sounds are reduced (Reffat & Harkness 2001). Whether sounds are desired or not,
depend strongly on the needs of the occupants, for example in a classroom the
ability for pupils to hear the teacher is paramount for the task of learning. However
the acoustic environment of non-residential buildings is normally designed to an
acoustic specification which does not allow for the necessary variations. The
acoustic specifications for buildings also fail to acknowledge the subjective element
of acoustic comfort; an individual’s perception of sound can differ greatly from
another, for instance in the enjoyment of music (Yang & Kang 2005; Krüger &
Zannin 2004).
2.2.1.5 Visual input
Research in visual comfort typically focuses on the lighting of work spaces and the
use of visual displays. Optimal lighting conditions are dependent on the task the
occupant is completing; the main need for pleasant lighting is to reduce the effect
of both disability and discomfort glare. Most work environments consist
predominantly of artificial lighting in line with guidelines given by CIBSE (Chartered
Institution of Building Services Engineers). However, some research has shown
daylight in offices can create a more comfortable environment which actually
improves individuals’ wellbeing and health, as sunlight consists of a balanced
spectrum of colours, unlike artificial lighting (Edwards and Torcellini, 2002).
2.2.1.6 History
The past experience an individual has of an environment or object can affect their
expectations. There are two types of experience, long-term and short-term. Long-
term experience is determined by the schematic map an individual creates in their
mind of different choices and decisions made under various circumstances, for
example, if an individual is at home and feeling cold, their automatic reaction may
be to shut the doors from previous experience they know this will help keep the
17
room retain warmth. Short-term experience affects an individual’s memory and
moulds their expectations of everyday life (Nikolopoulou & Steemers 2003).
2.2.1.7 State
A state can be described as a state of mind in which emotions are experienced; this
is also referred to as an emotional experience. A state such as this cannot be
observed unless the emotion is knowingly expressed to others. Studies have shown
that an individual’s state of mind can affect how they may perceive a product or
environment. For example an occupant returning to a warm home from the cold
outdoors will have a different perception of the warm indoor environment than
someone who has been indoors all day (Picard 2000; Vink, Overbeeke, et al. 2005).
Thermal Comfort 2.2.2
Our initial response to the surrounding thermal environment is an automatic
response by our bodies thermoregulatory system; as homeotherms our bodies try
to maintain a stable internal temperature of 37°C; responses such as shivering,
vasoconstriction and sweating all help our body maintain a constant internal body
temperature. Although the body’s thermoregulation system makes a significant
difference to our ability to cope with thermal stress, we still have a drive to achieve
a thermally comfortable state. The need for thermal comfort has been of
importance since the beginning of human existence; whether this was expressed by
adapting clothing or finding shelter. Thermal comfort has only grown in
importance. Homes and commercial buildings across the developed world have
heating and cooling technologies incorporated into the architectural design, to
satisfy occupants’ expectations to achieve thermal comfort in all climatic
conditions (Parsons 2003).
Fanger’s heat balance equation has formed the foundation of extensive research in
the area of thermal comfort. The equation is based on three forms of heat thermal
activity; heat generated, heat loss and heat stored. There are a number of
variations of the heat balance equation, however they are based on the founding
concepts of Fangers work, this being, the metabolic rate of the body (M) minus the
18
mechanical work done (W) should be equal to the loss of heat through evaporation
(E), radiation (R), convention (C), conduction (K). The combination of heat
production and heat loss components is equal to the amount of heat stored (S):
M – W = E + R + C + K + S
If heat storage is zero then the body is in heat balance, (S=0):
M W E R C K = 0
The methods based on Fanger’s heat balance equation were the first to take into
account the occupants requirements. His method combined six parameters of
thermal comfort, these being air temperature, humidity, air velocity, radiant
temperature, metabolic rate and clothing. These six physical factors were based on
three conditions necessary for human thermal comfort, these being, ‘the body is
in heat balance, sweat rate is within comfort limits and mean skin temperature is
within comfort limits’ (Parsons, 2003: 204). This was the basis for developing
Fanger’s predicted mean vote (hereafter PMV) comfort equation, a qualitative tool
used to predict the occupants’ satisfaction of with their thermal environment.
2.2.2.1 Thermal Assessment
In order to calculate thermal comfort, data is needed on each of the six parameters.
Air temperature, humidity, air velocity and radiant temperature are all parameters
which are normally measured on site. Metabolic rate can normally be estimated
using existing tables and databases containing the estimated metabolic rates for
different occupations, tasks or general levels of exertion (resting, low, medium, etc).
Clothing is normally estimated from databases of clothing insulation values for
different ensembles.
Subjective measures are often used alongside quantitative methods to assess
thermal environments. The International Standardisation Organisation (hereafter
ISO) sets out guidance on using subjective scales in which they divide approaches
into two types, personal and environmental. Those which are personal ask
19
participants to describe their perception of their surrounding environment, while
an environmental approach asks participant to consider how acceptable or
tolerable they find the environment. Rating scales measuring thermal warmth or
thermal comfort are normally administered; the most common scales used are the
Bedford comfort scale and the ASHRAE scale shown in Table 1:
Table 1: Bedford Comfort Scale and ASHRAE Scale
Bedford Comfort Scale ASHRAE Scale
7 Much too warm +3 Hot
6 Too warm +2 Warm
5 Comfortably warm +1 Slightly warm
4 Comfortable 0 Neutral
3 Comfortably cool -1 Slightly cool
2 Too cool -2 Cool
1 Much too cool -3 Cold
(Parsons, 2003)
2.2.2.2 Thermal Indices
The PMV index is just one of many thermal indices which have been devised, in fact
there are thought to be over 100 thermal indices all of which differentiate slightly
from each other. Humphreys (2005) compares two thermal indices PMV and
Standard Effective Temperature (SET), using a database of thermal comfort
surveys from 20,000 thermal environments, he found there was a significant
amount of variation between the values given from both indices for the same
environment, suggesting a lack of consistency amongst the indices. He further
stated that if in one environment the radiant temperature was high and the air
temperature was low, this could give the same value on the PMV index as an
environment that has equal radiant and air temperature; thus the value could give
an unclear expression of the environment.
20
2.2.2.3 Current Thermal Comfort Standards
Several thermal comfort standards have been developed by various national and
international institutions. The standards define the optimum thermal comfort
standards and can also provide information on the number of dissatisfied
occupants over a range of thermal comfort conditions. There are two current
standards for thermal comfort in practice, these are ISO 7730: Ergonomics of the
thermal environment and ASHRAE Standard 55: Thermal environmental conditions
for human occupancy. They are both based on Fanger’s thermal comfort model
which only takes into account the physiological factors of which effect occupants’
satisfaction of thermal environment.
Figure 2: Thermal Comfort Model from Fanger (ISSO74)
Current indoor standards typically consider thermal conditions, air quality and
acoustical conditions. The aspects are all developed and implemented separately
with little consideration for the way in which they interact with each other (Toftum
2002). Several standards concur to this strategy, including European standards
CEN Report 1752 and EN 1521, both include several factors of the environment but
separately, when in practice the multiple factors are likely to influence each other.
In a study comparing data from several environmental surveys (thermal, lighting
21
and acoustic), Humphreys (2005) found dissatisfaction across several aspects of the
environment did not necessarily lead to overall dissatisfaction, likewise,
satisfaction with several aspects does not necessarily lead to overall occupant
satisfaction. This suggests there is a relationship between the multiple factors of
the indoor environment which affects occupants’ satisfaction.
2.2.2.4 Adaptive Thermal Comfort
Not only has there been a call to consider the relationship between the multiple
aspects of the indoor environment, concerns have been raised over the limited
nature of Fanger’s thermal comfort. In reviewing Fanger’s work, Auliciems (1981)
noted occupants satisfaction of indoor thermal environments was based on the
assumption that a lack of thermoregulatory activity must constitute occupant
satisfaction, and perceived warmth is based solely on physiological factors. As a
result he developed an alternative psycho-physical model of thermal comfort
which takes into account psychological nature of indoor thermal comfort, including
thermal expectations and the climatic influences:
22
Figure 3: Psycho-Physiological Model of Thermal Comfort from Auliciems (1981)
The psycho-physical model has led many researchers to reflect on the significance
of psychological aspects of indoor thermal environment. Significant contributions
to the integration of psychological aspects into thermal comfort standards, have
been made by De Dear and Brager (1998). They devised an adaptive model of
thermal comfort in response to two issues, firstly the current energy-intensive
environmental controls and secondly, the lack of flexibility towards strategies of
thermal variability. The model incorporates three forms of adaption, behavioural
adjustments, physiological and psychological. Behavioural adjustment refers to the
changes which the occupant will make consciously or unconsciously to maintain
the body's heat balance, this may include drinking water to cool down, or putting
on extra clothing to keep warm. Physiological adaptions are described as those
which alter the physiological response of the body this may include acclimatization
through the long-term exposure. And finally psychological aspects of thermal
23
adaption reflect on the influence of past experiences and expectations on
occupants’ thermal comfort. Through a large scale project based on thousands of
human subjects in building studies across the globe, De Dear and Brager found that
indoor temperature which ranged outside the comfort zones established by
standard ASHRAE 55 were actually acceptable to the subjects suggesting a more
dynamic thermal environment would be acceptable by building occupants.
In practice, the introduction of energy conserving systems to ventilate buildings
such as natural ventilation systems or mixed mode systems have become more
accepted and encouraged. Natural ventilation is defined 'as ventilation provided by
thermal, wind or diffusion effects through doors, windows, or the intentional
openings' (Emmerich et al. 2001, p.3) as opposed to mechanical which is classified
as ventilation powered by motor-driven equipment. Running a natural ventilation
system will inevitably save energy as no power would be needed at all, and
consequently save money which is likely to key to encouraging the incorporation of
such systems in the future.
The building occupants also play a large role in the acceptance of natural systems,
the level of thermal consistency experienced in most HVAC building could not be
maintained with a natural ventilation system; occupants would certainly
experience a wider range of indoor temperatures. Brager and De Dear (2000)
compared naturally ventilated buildings to HVAC buildings; they found the
occupants in the naturally ventilated buildings wore a wider range of clothing
through the various seasons than those in the HVAC building. Their study also
showed that occupants of HVAC buildings accepted a narrower variation in thermal
conditions when compared to those in naturally ventilated buildings, perhaps this is
due to the expectation of consistency occupants have become use to from HVAC
systems; occupants in naturally ventilated buildings showed a preference for a
wider variation in conditions.
Comfort and Human Needs 2.2.3
The phrase ‘human behaviour’ is used as an umbrella term to describe a vast
number of aspects from sub-conscious operant behaviour to conscious decision
24
making. Of particular interest here is how human behaviour is shaped and
transformed by the world around us, several elements such as culture, emotions,
attitudes, and environmental factors can affect individual choice and behaviour
(Skinner 2005). Maslow (1970) theory of human motivation outlines seven levels of
needs; basic needs, safety needs, love/belongingness, esteem needs, cognitive
needs, aesthetic needs and finally the need for self-actualization. The diagram
below shows Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
Figure 4: Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs (1970)
Biological and physiological needsthe most basic of all needs drives individuals
to have enough food, water, and shelter, in order to live. It also includes
homeostatic processes such as the body’s automatic attempts to keep the body in
heat balance.
Safety needs the second level, the need for safety, once physiological and
biological needs are met individuals will strive to feel secure at home, in
employment, and to have a stable life.
Belongingness and love needs this need for love and a sense of belongingness
refers to an individual’s desire to feel accepted, to love and to be loved by others in
their lives, this could include friends, a partner, or family.
Self-
Actualisation
needs
Aesthetics needs
Cognitive needs
Esteem needs
Belongingness and Love needs
Safety needs
Biological and Physiological needs
25
Esteem needs esteem is used an umbrella term for people’s motivation to be
confident, capable, reputable and strong achievement of these needs will leave the
individuals with higher self-esteem.
Cognitive needs an individual’s thirst for knowledge and understanding, an
individual strives to have the ability to know, comprehend and analyse day-to-day
information and situations.
Aesthetic needs aesthetic needs was one of the needs added to the revised
hierarchy it recognises the need for beauty, order and symmetry in life.
Self-actualisation needs this need is reached when an individual realises their full
potential and achieve what they are most fitted to do, this goal will differs greatly
from person to another.
Maslow suggests it is not necessary to completely satisfy one level in order to move
onto the next, for example, an individual could have no access to regular food and
water but could still have loving relationships with others. If the physiological and
safety needs are not fulfilled they are likely to take priority over higher needs
(Maslow 1970; Smith et al. 2003).
Maslow's motivational theory follows a goal centred approach, so the need for
safety, esteem, etc., are goals achieved by an individual’s behaviour, this runs
parallel to Shove's view of comfort as an achievement which requires an action or
series of actions to reach (2003a). Take thermal comfort as an example, to suggest
that the current thermal comfort levels occupants achieve in their homes through
heating are set at a temperature which only satisfies their physiological needs, is
not a notion supported by the statistics which indicate rising internal temperatures.
The thermal conditions are also likely to be affected by other factors such as
present outdoor climate, the effectiveness of installed heating/cooling systems,
energy prices and the preferred temperature for occupants; will all play a role in the
indoor temperature set by the householders (Palmer et al. 2012). The ability to
control the indoor temperature has given occupants the opportunity to maintain
higher temperatures and construct their ideal conditions (Shove 2003a).
26
As another example of the parallels between needs and comfort, Maslow's
hierarchy of needs also draws on the need for social comfort in the sense of love
and belongingness. Creating and maintaining social relationships is considered to
be socially normal and an important element of human behaviour. Social
relationships are normally built on commonalities (similar interest, shared
experiences, etc.) and are maintained through the exchange of goods and services
(for instance the time spent on the relationship and favours) between the two
parties. Social comfort can be achieved through building and maintaining healthy
and successful relationships which would satisfy the need for love and
belongingness (Cialdini & Trost 1998).
The final level of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is self-actualisation which is when an
individual reaches their full potential; this level has a sense of completeness, in that
all that could be achieved, has been achieved. In terms of comfort, potentially it
could be possible to achieve a state where all lesser comfort levels are satisfied and
one is fully comfortable. Perhaps comfort at home is to have an environment which
allows for self-actualisation to occur. Heijs and Stringer’s (1987) work in which they
classified different forms of comfort that a dwelling can provide, identified two
forms of comfort which could help occupants reach self-actualisation; these were
facilitative comfort and personalisation comfort. Facilitative comfort refers to the
home’s ability to provide the occupants’ with the freedom to complete the task or
hobbies they wish to; and as a result their home allows them to reach self-
actualisation. Personalisation comfort describes a home where occupants can
personalise to their taste, giving their own identity to their environment; this can
help individuals reach esteem needs (by improving their image), aesthetic needs
and self-actualisation. To achieve a full state of comfort perhaps a home can
provide an individual with the freedom of action, be it simply to relax or create time
and space for hobbies, with no restrictions an individual could reach a point of
complete comfort experience.
By applying a hierarchical approach similar to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the
notion that comfort is strived towards can to some extent be explained; Maslow
stated once one level of needs are met, individuals feel motivated to fulfil the
27
needs of the next level; as a result the motivation to fulfil the needs of the first level
is diminished. It seems this approach suggest that we are always striving for more,
be it self-actualization or an overall comfort experience. This is supported by a
psychological phenomenon known as the hedonic treadmill which state’s 'good
and bad events temporarily affect happiness, but people quickly adapt back to
hedonic neutrality' (Diener et al. 2006, p.305). It could be possible the hedonic
treadmill and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs could apply to the notion of comfort, for
example it could explain the escalation of energy consumption on space and water
heating in the domestic environment. Once the thermal conditions at which the
physiological needs of the body are satisfied, occupants then strive towards
reaching a temperature which is preferable (i.e. warmth) (Hajiran 2006; Diener et al.
2006).
Domestic Comfort 2.3
The Meaning of Home 2.3.1
‘Home’ is a complex and multidimensional notion, inclusive of physical,
psychological and socio-cultural aspects, different disciplines approach the
meaning of home from varying perspectives and thus defining home has proven
challenging (Somerville 1992; Moore 2000; Sixsmith 1986). Defining the home
often takes three main focal points, a materiality and structural definition is
typically used by the more physical disciplines, whilst there is extensive literature
exploring the psychological meaning of home such as notions of identity and
control, whereas the meaning of home can also be derived from the social
interactions and activities of householders. With the home having such a
multidimensional nature many researchers approach it from an interdisciplinary
approach to defining home, Somerville (1992) approached the meaning of
homelessness by initially defining the signifiers of home, Somerville provides six
'key signifiers' to the meaning of home based on an examination of the extensive
literature these were shelter, hearth, heart, privacy, roots, and abode. The six
signifiers were comprised of both physical and non-physical meanings of home;
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shelter was described as the physical infrastructure which provides refuge from the
elements; hearth and heart although similar in nature, hearth was classified as a
physiological factor providing the feeling of warmth and a homely atmosphere,
whilst heart provided an emotional security and the feeling of love and happiness
for the occupant. The meaning of abode was to represent place, and a space to live,
whilst privacy referred to the territorial power and control occupants had over this
space. Finally roots connoted to a source of identity, the mirror of oneself;
Somerville suggested some of these signifiers of home were experienced by
homeless individuals such as heart, the feeling of love, clearly indicating the
meaning of home is more than just the physical structure.
Sixsmith (1986) offered a varying classification of the meaning of home based on
data collected through multiple sorting task (MST) interviews with 22 postgraduate
students. The study identified three distinctive themes in the meaning of home
physical aspects, social aspects and personal aspects. As expected, the meaning of
the physical aspects included items such as structure, architecture and spatiality,
social aspects focused on the social interactions experienced between
householders and guests they may entertain. Personal factors drew upon an array
of meanings some of which were psychological in nature such as a sense of
belongingness, self-expression, and happiness, as well as additional features such
as privacy, knowledge and time. Sixsmith concluded there are multiple dimensions
to the meaning of home, not all of which will be significant to all individuals
therefore one individuals meaning of home may not necessarily match another
individuals; however Sixsmith gave the following definition of home:
“Home is a multidimensional phenomenon, neither unidimensional nor created from a
set of standard qualities pertaining either to the person or the place. Rather each
home features a unique and dynamic combination of personal, social and physical
properties and meaning.” (Sixsmith 1986, p.294)
This definition accepts the individuality of the ‘home’, and can be applied widely to
various different types of home. It supports householder’s personal ideals of home
and therefore is also strongly suited for the user-centred approach of this research.
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2.3.1.1 Qualities of a Home
Homes provide the features needed to conduct an array of activities; and is the
setting for comfort to be experienced. The multiple dimensions of the home allow
individuals to create the type of home which meets their needs; therefore some
dimensions will be more prominent and significant than others (Sixsmith 1986;
Smith 1994; Marcus 1997). A study conducted by Smith (1994) was designed to
explore the positive and negative qualities of the home environment through
interview. There were significantly clear themes regarded as positive qualities of
the home these were physical, social and personal qualities, mirroring Sixsmith’s
(1986) study classifying the meaning of home. The positive physical qualities
identified in the finding included physical features and aesthetics of the homes for
instance the décor and the openness of spaces. Positive social aspects discussed by
householders noted having good relationships with other householders, and how
experiencing positive interactions helped to create a positive atmosphere, a
desirable quality for the home. The positive personal aspects identified included
personalisation through displaying personal possessions, and freedom of
movement around the home. What was highlighted by this study was the
broadness of factors considered to contribute to a positive home environment.
Smith also emphasised the significance of a positive atmosphere which he
described as associated with a feeling of warmth and cosiness and “an essential
characteristic of home” (Smith 1994, p.43). Atmosphere at home was explored by
Pennartz (1986) his study indicated atmosphere was derived of a collection of
spatial and non-spatial components. Five non-spatial themes were identified
communicating with others, being accessible to others, being relaxed after work,
freedom of action and being engaged with activity (not bored). Findings also
indicated the physical context identifying three factors of the physical environment
which influence the atmosphere these were the layout of the rooms within the
home, size of rooms and shape of the rooms. Householders expressed a desire for
open spaces, and open doors to allow for communications with others which
created a pleasant experience. Pennartz (1986) found room size was also an
important factor for householders they desired rooms to be large enough for social
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interactions and other activities which householders desired to do at home. The
emphasis given to a positive atmosphere in order to have a pleasant home
environment draws on the importance of comfort (Sixsmith 1986; Pennartz 1986;
Smith 1994).
This poses the following questions, if the home holds the qualities an occupant
desires does this necessarily make the environment comfortable? There is an
undeniably link between the positive qualities of a home and comfort; this link
appears to be stronger with qualities characterised as personal such as
personalisation, belongings, freedom of choice and familiarity (Pineau 1982;
Sixsmith 1986; Heijs & Stringer 1987; Marcus 1997; Miller 2008). This invariable link
between qualities of the home and comfort is particularly evident in Heijs and
Stringer (1987) classification a four fields of comfort in the home; details of this
classification system will be discussed in the following section.
Heijs and Stringer’s: Properties of a Dwelling 2.3.2
Focusing on the social and psychological aspects of domestic comfort,
environmental psychologists Heijs and Stringer classified key properties to create a
comfortable home environment. They conducted a conceptual analysis of
literature on domestic comfort which spanned across various disciplines; and
developed a taxonomy consisting of four major fields; these were personalisation,
facilitative, perceptual and interactive comfort. The aim of the taxonomy at the
point of development (1987) was to address the following points, firstly, the lack of
literature which considered psychological and sociocultural aspects of comfort in
the home, they note a majority of literature focused upon the link between
wellbeing and specific technologies however none which focus solely on comfort.
Secondly the taxonomy aimed to provide clarity of the social and psychological
qualities of a home. It is important to stress the taxonomy was created to represent
qualities which the home environment should possess, the four fields distinguished
are not experienced exclusively but are interconnected and mutually influenced by
each other.
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2.3.2.1 Personalisation comfort
Heijs and Stringer described the personalisation comfort as “the transformation of
a house into a home” (Heijs & Stringer 1987, p.346), it was the process of bonding
with the property through the householders’ choice in décor, furnishings,
displaying keepsakes and possessions. By choosing these aspects of their
surroundings to their taste, householders could stamp their personality on their
property. Heijs and Stringer’s description of personalisation also stretched to the
outside of the property referring to ‘territorial markers’ in order to make the home
identifiable from the outside. Notions of self-expressions and identity within the
home are frequently identified as desired qualities of the home environment
(Sixsmith 1986; Smith 1994). A study conducted to examine the psychological
meaning of comfort identified four main themes amongst freedom of choice, space
and warmth, personalisation was also strongly associated with comfort (Pineau
1982). His study which was conducted with 400 female participants through
interviews and questionnaires found almost all respondents considered having a
personalised décor and arrangement of furnishings an important part of feeling
comfortable. Personalisation also drew upon the significance of familiarise
surroundings, Pineau found respondents strongly associated familiar surroundings
and belongings with comfort at home this was also considered important quality in
Smith’s (1994) study.
2.3.2.2 Interactive Comfort
Interactive comfort is described as the freedom of choice which a home offers in
terms of social contact with other householders and the outside world. A home
should offer both spaces for privacy and for social interactions which can be used as
desired by householders. They further note privacy can refer to both visual and
audio isolation from other householders, for instance having separate rooms whilst
social interactions benefit from having sufficient space available. Heijs and Stringer
recognised that interactive comfort also touched upon facilitative comfort in terms
of the room size, spaces available and the homes ability to accommodate such
interactions. It also includes the area surrounding the property; they note the
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neighbourhood should provide the possibility for social interactions, interaction
with other residents and the freedom of choice in a similar way to the internal
environment. Privacy in the sense can be defined as ‘an interpersonal boundary-
control process, which paces and regulates interaction with others’ (Altman 1975,
p.10). Two distinguishable levels of privacy are described desired privacy and
achieved privacy; whilst an individual may wish to limit their amount of social
interaction; this may not necessarily be an achievable level. As Heijs and Stringer
(1987) identified for the achievement of interactive comfort, the home needs to
offer privacy from other householders and outsiders, in so householder will be able
to achieved their desired level of privacy. Pennartz (1986) study also supported the
notion of social interaction for providing a pleasant atmosphere at home, he found
people noted positive communications with householders and the layout of rooms
as properties of atmosphere. Despite the importance of space and layout in