What skills and know-how do people use to keep warm at home? Where does this knowledge come from? These questions are addressed in a new article by ACE researcher Sarah Royston, published in the journal Energy Research and Social Science.
Keeping warm at home means managing heat flows – making sure that heat is where it is needed, when it is needed. In doing this, we interact with a wide range of objects, appliances and building features, from long-johns to loft insulation, and from hair-dryers to heat pumps.
Managing heat flows is something we do almost all the time, often without thinking much about it (by opening a window, or putting on a jumper, for example). But many of the things we do to keep warm involve some kind of practical knowledge or know-how. For example, we might know how to adjust the settings on a storage heater, programme the central heating, or light a fire. Equally we might know how to find and block draughts, or fashion an improvised bed-warmer from an old sock filled with rice.
This article explores the many kinds of know-how involved in keeping homes warm, and how these are learned through experience. The senses are important here – for example, we might use visible “dragon breath” as an indicator of cold. The article also looks at how changes such as moving house or having children can affect know-how, and reflects on what these ideas might mean for research, policy and practice on sustainable energy use.
You can read the full article (currently free) here.