Energy Use in Existing Dwellings: An Ethnographic Study of Domestic Energy Use Patterns in Ireland

John Barron, Derek Sinnott

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

    Abstract

    Energy efficiency research in dwellings has traditi onally focused on technical matters, implying increased fabric insulation stand ards and using energy efficient appliances reduces energy consumption. However this research has been shown to have limitations in the form of the impact of polic y and new technologies. As a result there is now widespread recognition of the importan ce for researchers to engage a broader approach of non-technical research of energ y use such as occupant behavior. Monitoring of energy use down to a single appliance is now possible and relatively inexpensive. This paper presents the res ults of an ethnographic study, supported by monitoring, of energy use patterns for six dwellings with a diverse occupant demographic in Ireland. The study supporte d by monitoring found that occupant sex, age and behavior predominantly affect ed energy use followed by the presence of technology rather than the building fab ric itself. Energy use in older technically less efficient dwellings with older occ upants was found to be substantially less than that of the younger occupan ts in supposed more energy efficient houses. When given feedback, occupants we re dispassionate when presented information in terms of energy units (kWh ) but absorbed information straightforwardly once the same information was exp ressed in monetary terms. From the research it is clear that technology and m odern living has had a transformational effect on the way we use energy wh ich pose many problems for the future. Ethnographical research is a long establish ed discipline in the field of social science but its importance is just burgeoning in re lation to understand energy use patterns in buildings. Thus, in addition to the res ults the paper presents the lessons learned during the process and proposes a framework for future ethnographical research of energy use in dwellings.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 2013
    EventN: Proceedings of CLIMA 2013 - 11th REHVA World Congress and the 8th International Conference on IAQVEC - Prague, Czech Republic, Prague, Czech Republic
    Duration: 01 Jan 2013 → …

    Conference

    ConferenceN: Proceedings of CLIMA 2013 - 11th REHVA World Congress and the 8th International Conference on IAQVEC
    CityPrague, Czech Republic
    Period01/01/2013 → …

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