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Energy Living Labs for heating and laundry across eight European countries: challenging everyday practices
This paper presents the empirical findings of the European project, ENERGISE (H2020), focused on the main research question: In what way can Energy Living Labs contribute to changes in laundry and heating practices in the home? While most initiatives aimed at reducing or improving energy in the home have been dominated by efforts to improve individual behaviour or introduce more efficient technologies (Jensen et al 2018), ENERGISE takes as a starting point the importance of engaging everyday people in a deliberative process towards challenging collective conventions and designing for ruptures in everyday routines. Over several weeks in November and December 2018 and with a focus on laundry and heating, consortium partners rolled out living labs which involved 300 households in eight countries: Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Switzerland, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Both qualitative and quantitative data analysis are combined to explain how and in what way changes in everyday practices occurred, and what changes took place in relation to energy reductions and savings. We begin by discussing our conceptual framework around social practice theory, then briefly introduce the research sites and living lab design. We then present key findings to uncover and discuss how changes occur in relation to practices, with an emphasis on the significance of challenging collective conventions, and on the potential for such initiatives to achieve sufficiency – or absolute reductions in energy usage combined with changes to everyday practices.