Creating new energy orders: Restrictions and opportunities for energy efficient behaviour

Panel: 8. Dynamics of consumption

This is a peer-reviewed paper.

Authors:
Helena Karresand, Linköping University
Dept. of Thematic Studies - Technology and Social Change, Sweden

Abstract

Technological development and regulations are gradually making buildings and appliances more energy efficient but household electricity use remains at relatively high levels and does not seem to be decreasing despite improvements in equipment. The point of departure in this paper is the potential for more energy efficient behaviour where household activities are concerned and how that can be studied. It focuses on public housing companies that have built passive houses, in which appliance use is an integral part of maintaining a comfortable indoor climate. The purpose of this paper is to introduce a model called energy orders for analysing household activities in passive houses and identifying restrictions and opportunities for energy efficient behaviour connected to laundry activities. Qualitative interviews have been conducted with public housing residents on their everyday activities and use of appliances. Results show that activities may be realised in very different ways, and they may result in more or less electricity use depending on the resources households use. However, households are affected by various restrictions that prevent them from making better choices energy wise. Also, opportunities for taking certain actions vary between households. While individual choices do matter the households are undoubtedly limited by restrictions shaped by housing companies and other organisations. Identifying the obstacles that deter households from acting more energy efficiently may increase the potential of the passive house to further reduce household electricity use. Housing companies need to provide more flexible solutions in order to create better opportunities for households to act in more energy efficient ways.

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