Comfort, care and compromises: how social relations and technology shape energy-consuming household practices

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Social relations between people, for example in households are fundamental to how and when energy is used. At the heart of such social relations are concepts such as care and home comfort. Care in households, can be understood as caring for oneself or others, animals or the materials and technologies of the home itself as well as the immediate surroundings such as gardens, balconies or communal outdoor areas. Home comfort plays a central role in how households consume energy, as this consumption is tied to everyday routines, the materialities of the home and its appliances, as well as the meanings of comfort and care for those included in the household. Household energy consumption holds around one third of overall energy consumption in Denmark and a large part of this is related to activities of housework and home comfort. To comply with more sustainable resource use it is imperative that household energy consumption is reduced and adapted to the availability of renewable energy resources. To succeed with this transition, that is reducing as well as shifting the consumption of energy, it is necessary to understand household practices as connected to housework, comfort and care including the gendering of these aspects.
Thus, this paper explores the relation between home comfort and care in household practices on the basis of qualitative interviews from two different datasets, including households with different types of heating technologies. The data points to care as central to how household members sharing a home perform practices related to home comfort and energy use across the different technologies. It also shows how heating and smart technologies become mediators of care in creating daily home comfort and discusses how smart heating technologies can affect practices related to home comfort and care.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date31 Aug 2022
Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2022
EventMidterm Meeting of ESA RN05 Sociology of Consumption 2022 - Oslo Met, Oslo, Norway
Duration: 30 Aug 20222 Sept 2022


ConferenceMidterm Meeting of ESA RN05 Sociology of Consumption 2022
LocationOslo Met


  • Comfort
  • Care
  • Households
  • Energy Consumption
  • Social practices
  • Energy Technology
  • Heating


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