Moving home and changing behaviour – implications for increasing household energy efficiency

Panel: 8. Dynamics of consumption

This is a peer-reviewed paper.

Daniel Gnoth, Centre for the Study of Agriculture, Food and Environment (CSAFE)
University of Otago, New Zealand


Changing household behaviour has traditionally been met with many barriers. Household behaviour in relation to energy use is heterogeneous, low involvement and habitual, all things which hinder the ability for traditional information based interventions to have any real effect. The Energy Cultures Framework suggests that habits are built up from the self-reinforcing interactions between norms, practices and material culture (Stephenson et al, 2010) . This suggests that there may be opportunities to encourage more energy efficient practices through changing material culture. This paper examines what happens to energy related behaviours when people move home and are broken away from their previous context. The research was undertaken in New Zealand during 2011-2012 in which 16 households were interviewed before and after they had moved home using elements of soft systems methodology. This paper investigates the the relationships between motivations and material culture on changing behaviour in four of the 16 case studies. Each case represents an ‘energy culture’ (Lawson and Williams 2012) within the New Zealand population and offers opportunities for identifying potential interventions depending on their grouping. The study finds that past experience and differences in perceived comfort levels in the new dwelling can have considerable influence on the types of energy related changes that occur after moving home. Although moving home provides a unique opportunity for intervention, there are many complex contextual factors that need to be addressed. References: Energy Cultures – A Framework for Understanding Energy Behaviours – Janet Stephenson, Barry Barton, Gerry Carrington, Daniel Gnoth, Rob Lawson & Paul Thorsnes, Energy Policy, Volume 38, Issue 10, pp.6120–6129, 2010. Rob Lawson, John Williams (2012). Understanding Energy Cultures. Paper accepted at ANZMAC, December 2012, Adelaide.


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Download this paper as pdf: 8-469-13_Gnoth.pdf