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From modern housing to sustainable suburbia: how occupants and their dwellings are adapting to reduce home energy consumption


Gabriel, M and Watson, P, From modern housing to sustainable suburbia: how occupants and their dwellings are adapting to reduce home energy consumption, Housing, Theory and Society, 30, (3) pp. 219-236. ISSN 1403-6096 (2013) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2013 IBF, The Institute for Housing and Urban Research

DOI: doi:10.1080/14036096.2013.775183


In this paper, we examine how occupants and their dwellings adapt to reduce home energy consumption. Our analysis is informed by recent studies which emphasize the materiality of the home, as well as the impact of technological change within the home. Such approaches are important in clarifying the relationship between home design and home practices, as well as understanding processes of change such as sustainable home adaptation. Drawing on people's experiences of installing solar hot water systems, we found that sustainable home adaptation was not a straightforward process whereby occupant aspirations were delivered through building adaptation, but rather adaptation arose from the differing capacities and practices of occupants and their buildings, and how these were negotiated over time. In particular, we found that successful adaptations were dependent on the integration of the occupant's "folk knowledge" of their home along with the "technical knowledge" provided by tradespeople, suppliers or the occupant themselves. In contrast to mid-century Australian housing new sustainable modes of living demand: working knowledge of the dwelling, reflection on home practices, and case-specific adjustments of dwellings that reflect the needs and capacities of occupants.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:energy conservation, energy efficiency, energy use, household energy, housing, material culture, suburban area, sustainability, technological change
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Policy and administration
Research Field:Social policy
Objective Division:Energy
Objective Group:Environmentally sustainable energy activities
Objective Field:Environmentally sustainable energy activities not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Gabriel, M (Dr Michelle Gabriel)
UTAS Author:Watson, P (Dr Phillipa Watson)
ID Code:87534
Year Published:2013
Web of Science® Times Cited:13
Deposited By:School of Social Sciences
Deposited On:2013-11-21
Last Modified:2019-07-08
Downloads:3 View Download Statistics

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