Getting a (sustainable) grip on energy consumption: The importance of household dynamics and 'habitual practices'

  • Maréchal K
  • Holzemer L
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Considering the insufficient results achieved so far by energy-saving policies, the stance of this paper is to depart from an 'expert' view and base the analysis on those energy-related practices that are meaningful to practitioners (e.g., showering, cooking, listening to music). The framework described in this paper builds on the concept of habitual practices. Its rationale is to provide a precise characterisation of household energy-related practices allowing for a good understanding of their content together with a clearer picture of how they are formed and sustained over time. This constitutes a necessary step prior to reflecting on the type of interventions that could influence practices towards more sustainable configurations. The notion of 'grips' is then introduced with the aim of putting this characterisation into a form that is more operational for policy-makers. Grips are elements that have to be '(de-) activated' for supporting a targeted behavioral change. Identifying grips can enrich the characterization of consumption profiles and then be used as a dialogue interface between those profiles and the design of innovative energy-saving tools. This scheme is then applied within a dynamic perspective of the change process whereby a new practice has to be triggered, sustained and stabilized.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Energy consumption
  • Energy-saving tools
  • Grips
  • Habits
  • Practice theories

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  • Kevin Maréchal

  • Laurence Holzemer

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