Retrofit of domestic buildings will be crucial to deliver more affordable heating and meet climate goals. In recent Oxford Energy Network seminars, various speakers have explored skills, challenges in the supply chain and financing mechanisms. In this seminar, I will focus more on the people living in their homes – their motivations, knowledge, involvement, and how these shape their retrofit journeys.
Building research and policy typically consider the rational reasoning behind homeowner domestic energy retrofit decisions, such as health and well-being considerations, climate concerns and altruistic behaviours, and financial considerations, i.e. returns on investment and savings on energy bills. However, the focus only on rational reasoning neglects the emotional aspects of homeowner decisions regarding their dwellings. As home is a place imbued with significant meaning for individuals, emotional aspects can play important role in their retrofit decisions. I will explore this emotional realm and suggest how rational reasoning can be complemented with an emotional one.
I will then focus on homeowner retrofit decision processes, suggesting different mechanisms to help transform initial intentions into ambitious (hopefully) retrofit solutions, and subsequently reduce energy use post retrofit. Research and policy traditionally focus on the identification of retrofit drivers and barriers, to strengthen the former and reduce the later. However, retrofit should be understood as a dynamic process that unfolds over a lengthy period of time, whereas drivers/ barriers approach does not allow to capture temporary dynamics during the retrofit process. The process perspective makes a temporal dimension explicit, forcing to think about mechanisms that help to move through the stages of the process, as well as about possible policy leavers necessary to facilitate the transition at each stage of the process.