Why do homeowners renovate energy efficiently? Contrasting perspectives and implications for policy
This paper contrasts two perspectives on energy efficient home renovations from applied behavioural research on energy efficiency and from sociological research on homes and domestic life. Applied behavioural research characterises drivers and barriers to cost-effective renovations, and identifies personal and contextual influences on homeowners’ renovation decisions. Research findings inform policies to promote energy efficiency by removing barriers or strengthening decision influences. Sociological research on domestic life points to limitations in this understanding of renovation decision making that emphasises houses but not homes, energy efficiency but not home improvements, the one-off but not the everyday, and renovations but not renovating. The paper proposes a situated approach in response to this critique. A situated approach retains a focus on renovation decision making, but conceptualises decisions as processes that emerge from the conditions of everyday domestic life and are subject to different levels of influence. This situated approach is tractable for energy efficiency policy while recognising the ultimate influences that explain why homeowners decide to renovate.