Low-carbon retrofits in social housing: interaction with occupant behaviour

Sara Walker, Kate Theobald, David Lowery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)
7 Downloads (Pure)


The turnover of the UK housing stock is such that CO2 emissions reduction targets will require extensive refurbishment of existing homes. Both within the literature and in practice, there is limited understanding of the interaction between housing energy efficiency refurbishment and occupant behaviour. The authors implemented interview-based qualitative research into energy-related behaviours before and after an energy efficiency refurbishment project on social housing in the north east of England. Half of the sample also received an information intervention. Template analysis identified seven key patterns affecting energy behaviour: access to knowledge and skills; nature of technical intervention; habit; external circumstances; quality of technical intervention; convenience of technology; and thermal comfort. These findings were discussed in relation to Social Practice Theory and competence, material and image as components of practice. The research provides an insight into the interaction between occupants and retrofit technologies in the context of a social housing retrofit. It is recommended that policy makers and implementers of retrofit programmes ensure that competence, material and image considerations are integral to retrofit programmes for energy use practice to change and more optimal CO2 emissions reduction achieved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)102-114
JournalEnergy Research and Social Science
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2014


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