Exploring comfort in the home: towards an interdisciplinary framework for domestic comfort

With increasing costs of energy and the need to cut CO2 emissions, householders are actively encouraged to reduce their energy consumption. As the biggest uses of energy in the home are for space and water heating, research into comfort has predominately focused on the thermal environment. A wider perspective on comfort is provided by sociological practice-orientated research that seeks to understand how people create comfort at home and psychologically informed approaches relating to understanding the drivers for behavioural change. By gaining a multidisciplinary understanding of how and why occupants create comfort at home, opportunities to maximize energy demand reduction can potentially be identified. Findings from a study of householders and a review of the literature were used to create a framework that incorporates a three-tiered approach to understanding comfort in the home consisting of “comfort needs”, “comfort preferences” and the highest level, “comfort aspirations”.