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Home-ing in on domestic energy research: 'house', 'home' and the importance of ontology

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>17/01/2015
<mark>Journal</mark>Energy Research and Social Science
Volume6
Number of pages9
Pages (from-to)100-108
<mark>State</mark>Published
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

Domestic energy demand is a topical policy issue, with implications for climate change, energy vulnerability and security. Domestic energy demand varies considerably by country, climate, building type, and even when these factors are the same, occupancy patterns and inhabitant’s lifestyles also create variation.However, clarifying understanding of the basic locus of analysis: the home, house, dwelling, or household has received little attention to date, despite its relevance to debates on energy demand. This paper explores the theoretical and methodological assumptions of investigating the ‘house’ compared to the‘home’ and the implications for domestic energy researchers. We suggest that the ontological priority given to the ‘home’ results in scholarship which considers both social and physical aspects that shape demand. Conversely, research prioritising the ‘house’ is dominated by techno-economic thinking, andoverlooks critical social considerations. Recognising this important distinction, we conclude with a plea for scholars to be cognisant of ontology and language, and provide some suggestions for a future research agenda.