Reducing energy use in social housing: examining contextual design constraints and enablers

Domestic energy use in the UK is rising. Because of the low rates of demolition, and the difference in efficiency between new and old houses, to reduce domestic energy use, the existing stock of homes must use and emit less. To achieve a substantial and rapid reduction in energy use we need to engage with occupants in meaningful and effective ways to prompt more efficient behaviour. Carbon, Control and Comfort is a three-year collaborative research project aiming to engage users in the design of control systems that they like, that allow them to create the comfort conditions they want and which, through using the technology and fabric of their homes more effectively, reduces their energy use. Drawing on the findings of a crossdisciplinary literature review, the paper explores how occupants' comfort practices impact upon energy use. It goes on to discuss the design constraints and sociotechnical factors which could inform the development of devices or systems that enhance and promote energy reducing comfort practices.