‘It comes back to how we want our home to be’: relating everyday practices to residential retrofits

‘It comes back to how we want our home to be’: relating everyday practices to residential retrofits


Rupert Doney, Pauline McGuirk and Kathy Mee

Organisation of Presenter:

University of Newcastle, Australia


The thermal retrofit of housing is often positioned as a matter of overcoming technical issues in ways that enhance energy efficiencies and the economic performance of buildings. To be sure, low-energy technologies are central to attempts aimed at reducing household energy use and costs. However, the use of retrofit technologies and the ways that associated levels of energy use and consumption are conditioned by households’ everyday social practices is often underexplored. Attending to the ways that retrofit technologies are used and become socially embedded in householders’ everyday practices is critical to the success of retrofits. This paper is concerned with how people engage with and experience their home environments, particularly in relation to their interactions with thermal retrofit technologies. The paper explores some of the connections between domestic energy use, retrofit technologies and everyday social practices through investigating practices of making and re-making home. The paper draws on empirical material from 20 in-depth walk-and-talk interviews with householders who have undertaken heating and cooling retrofits in Newcastle, Australia. Identifying several key themes that relate across the uses of retrofits and practices of making home (e.g. comfort, family, repair and maintenance), the paper explores how homemaking practices articulate with retrofit technologies. Attending to these ordinary social practices offers insights into the complex ways householders bring meaning to their use of particular technologies and the implication this holds for energy use.