Consumer Sustainability Decisions: Conceptualizing Scientific Progress Regarding Home Energy Renovation Decisions

Charlie Wilson, Lucy Crane, Georgios Chrysochoidis

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Abstract

Reducing old-housing-stock greenhouse gas emissions is of importance given their major contribution to global warming. For instance, old housing stock generates >40% of the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Old housing energy inefficient stock is widespread across many countries and poses a challenge but also fertile ground for major industrial activity if homes renovations do materialize. Homeowner decisions to reduce energy consumption through home renovations are thus at the heart of success for such sustainability. Research into energy efficient renovations has four characteristics which delineate the object of enquiry, yet in so doing impose limitations on the reach of insights generated. First, research pays surprisingly little attention to the linkages with non energy-related, ‘amenity’ renovations, even though kitchens, bathrooms and loft conversions dominate the money, time and effort invested in homes. Second, research focuses on contracted out renovations, so that linkages with DIY projects and home improvements more generally are skirted over. Third, research tends to represent renovation decisions implicitly or explicitly as discrete events (a black box), and so fails to detect and attribute change through the course of the pre-ceding decision process. Fourth, research on energy efficient renovations regards renovation decisions as deliberative and defined, limiting the extent to which these are situated within habitual daily household life. The increasing application of social theories in this field is, however, starting to challenge these self-imposed limitations, particularly with respect to deliberative decision making. Situating the narrow efficiency literature amid lines of broader social scientific enquiry into the meanings and constructions of ‘home’ and ‘household’ extends the explanatory power and influence of efficiency-focused research. This in turn gives rise to contrasting insights from multiple perspectives, widening the instrumental contributions of research to effective policy and service provision in the energy efficiency markets across any polluting country on a global scene. Overall, two are the main overall points that we attempt to illustrate. Firstly, we argue that using the term household constrains research into the process of renovation. Secondly, by using a broader definition, and incorporating the home, the renovation (as a process) could be better understood. The research agenda is currently lacking insights into what could be potentially a fertile ground for explaining what motivates people to do what they do.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2013
EventAmerican Marketing Association 2013 Winter Conference - Las Vegas, United States
Duration: 15 Feb 201317 Feb 2013

Conference

ConferenceAmerican Marketing Association 2013 Winter Conference
CountryUnited States
CityLas Vegas
Period15/02/1317/02/13

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