How the meanings of ‘home’ influence energy-consuming practices in domestic buildings

Xinfang Wang, Dana Abi Ghanem, Alice Larkin, Carly McLachlan

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The UK introduced carbon budgets in 2008, with an aim to reduce greenhouse gases by 80% by 2050 compared with the 1990 levels. It has been argued that the 2015 Paris Agreement on limiting the global average temperature rise to ‘well below 2° C’ requires deeper and more rapid emission reductions than the current UK targets. Household energy consumption accounts for almost a third of total UK CO2 emissions in recent years. This paper explores drivers of high energy consumption in domestic buildings from a sociological practice perspective and through a lens of dominant meanings of ‘home’. Whilst the practice approach and meanings of home have been explored separately in the literature to understand household energy consumption, this paper adds new findings on the interaction between the meanings of home and the elements of practices. Results show the dominant meaning of home differs between householders; this in turn affects the materials and procedures of energy-consuming practices. For instance, if ‘home’ means ‘hospitality’, this changes the standard of comfort and convenience people perceive at home. Understanding how practices and meanings of the home intersect, provides new, much needed insights that could support policy change commensurate with more rapidly reducing CO2 emissions from domestic energy consumption.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1
JournalEnergy Efficiency
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 5 Dec 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was funded by the School (now Department) of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering and the Sustainable Consumption Institute at the University of Manchester.

Funding Information:
Many thanks to four anonymised experts who commented on earlier versions of this paper. Particular thanks go to the Tyndall Manchester team, who have been very supportive to this work and offered valuable suggestions for improvement. Extraordinarily gratefulness goes to all participants in the empirical work. This work would not have been possible without them.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, The Author(s).


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