Loughborough University
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Creature comforts: an exploration of comfort in the home

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posted on 2014-11-21, 09:52 authored by Andrea Burris
In response to climate change, there is a growing need for the UK to reduce carbon emissions in the domestic sector. As a majority of energy consumed within the domestic sector is as a result of space and water heating, research in the field focuses on thermal comfort. The literature on thermal comfort is dominated by an examination of the physiological aspects, and although the influences of psychological and socio-cultural aspects are often recognised, their relationship to the physiological aspects is not fully understood. Additionally, the literature typically studies various elements of comfort (e.g. thermal, acoustic, lighting, etc.) in isolation to each other rather than taking a holistic approach which would mirror how they are experienced in the real world and identify potential associations. As a result, this thesis explores the multi-dimensions of comfort in the domestic environment. This research begins by taking a user-centred approach to exploring UK householders perspectives of comfort in the home. Through interviewing householders, the findings revealed householders attributed a wide scope of factors to their own experience of comfort, from aesthetics to feeling secure in their home; the findings highlighted the significance of psychological factors to householders comfort. The following stage involved a focused and in-depth exploration of the psychological dimensions of domestic comfort through photo elicitation interviews. The findings supported the presence of four intertwined psychological dimensions and further established the multidimensional nature of comfort. The final study was conducted to establish when comfort and unwinding takes place in householders everyday lives. Through the use of two self-reporting ethnographic tools, namely SenseCams and diaries, householders were observed in their homes. The findings captured householders engaging in various comfort making activities and also demonstrated the value of using self-reporting tools in the home context. In the final stage, a classification of domestic comfort was generated which presents an accumulation of the findings from this research to produce a holistic and multi-dimensional notion of domestic comfort.



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© Andrea Burris

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This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.

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