There are competing visions for what future low-carbon energy systems might look like. However, it is likely that consumers will be more actively involved in managing their energy use. Consequently, there is likely to be some disruption to the current rhythm of everyday domestic social practices. This paper considers what we can learn from people who already take a more active role in managing their energy supply, with the aim of identifying transferable lessons that could be applied to future energy system decentralization. We compare two case studies focused on people with different levels of grid connectivity - people living off-grid on narrowboats and living in semi-grid connected houses in rural Norfolk. We find that where people had constraints on their energy use, they responded in three main ways. First, they diversified their energy supplies, including adopting traditional fuels such as coal and wood. Second, people planned, monitored and shifted their energy use, responding in ways favorable to micro-generation and demand-side response. Third, people curtailed energy use. We propose that UK households may respond in similar ways to decentralized energy. Finally we consider the implications of our findings for future energy policy aimed at decentralizing energy production and supply.