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How users shape a comfortable indoor climate : a socio-technical analysis of visions in research and daily practice at home : a case study based exploration on complexes underlying differences between calculated and actual energy consumption in housing

Visser, H. (2015) How users shape a comfortable indoor climate : a socio-technical analysis of visions in research and daily practice at home : a case study based exploration on complexes underlying differences between calculated and actual energy consumption in housing.

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Abstract:Indoor climate technologies are studied by TNO’s research group ‘Energy and Comfort Systems’. The researchers investigate the technical aspects of the dual purpose of the systems: save energy and improve comfort. Problematic is that these systems should reduce energy at home; however calculated energy use in research setting differs from actual energy consumption in housing. Within ECS grows awareness that users and their behavior play an important role in saving energy at home. Yet, social and technical considerations of energy savings are studied separately within TNO institute. An exploratory study into users’ behavior at home with a socio-technical perspective toward the problem was desirable. The following research question is addressed in this thesis: What underlying dynamics can be identified behind the differences between calculated energy use in research and actual energy consumption in housing by comparing (a) how users shape a comfortable indoor climate at home and (b) how researchers anticipate users, their behavior and comfort in research on indoor climate systems? This thesis follows Elisabeth Shove’s perspective, if energy efficiency is the focus, and the goal to stimulate energy saving use behavior of indoor climate systems, what matters is the meaning and realization of comfort that climatic systems provide. These are studied empirically from an STS point of view. The theoretical framework builds upon actor-network, scripting and appropriation theory and is extended with the concepts ‘design logic’ and ‘use logics’ of Jaap Jelsma and ‘everyday practices’ of Elisabeth Shove. These concepts help to place the meaning, realization and underlying reasons of a comfortable indoor climate at the center, and understand indoor climatic technologies, people and the further socio-material environment as part of the practice that they make possible. This framework has been used to analyze the research setting and six case studies of users at home. Within the research setting were user representations, constructions of comfort and design logics behind the research process identified. The cases demonstrated a variety of users’ meanings and realizations of a comfort in relation to the indoor climate, which were analyzed for common dimensions. It was difficult to explain the indoor climate practice only from the logics of the users; also ‘household logics’ and the material home environment were recognized as influencing climatic behavior. The findings were compared to deduce clues for deviation of actual from calculated energy consumption. The main underlying dynamic is the mismatch that researchers understand the shaping of comfortable indoor climate as a technical achievement of technology, but at home this turns out to be a socio-technical achievement. This and further conclusion are translated into recommendations for ECS research.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:08 philosophy
Programme:Philosophy of Science, Technology and Society MSc (60024)
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/essays/69603
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