Residential mobility and changing energy related behaviour
It has become increasingly important to use energy more efficiently, through the pressures on resource availability and the effects on climate change. This thesis studies how household energy related behaviour can or does change during residential mobility. Energy related behaviour is difficult to change because people become ‘locked in’ to practices that are framed by their material and social contexts. Residential mobility has been shown as a promising period to influence energy related behaviour because it causes a disruption to the embedded routines of everyday life. However despite numerous studies and theories supporting the notion that disruptions to everyday behaviour caused by changes during residential mobility provide opportune periods for intervention, there has been some difficulty in harnessing the seemingly enormous potential of this period. The thesis argues that residential mobility needs to be understood more holistically to encompass the ways householders interact with each other during mobility, and looks to literature on household mobility to inform this. However mobility literature does not address how householders behave in new dwellings well, so the thesis addresses new literature on household norm formation to address the changing dynamics of householders in a new dwelling. This thesis therefore explored how households’ energy related behaviour changes as they embark on the process of residential mobility, to find the most important elements that could or do stimulate changes in domestic energy consumption. It engages with 16 households before and twice after they move home in order to establish their reasons for moving. The interview prior the move focused on, why participants chose their new dwelling, and how they expected energy related behaviour might be different. Once they arrived in the new house, they were interviewed again, and again three to eight months after in order to establish if normal behaviour had changed, and the reasons why. The thesis has adapted existing methodologies to the study of dynamic moments between householders in a real world context. The investigation develops a framework by which to study energy related behaviour during residential mobility holistically. It establishes six stages where energy related behaviour can potentially be influenced. The thesis shows how each stage requires different considerations when approaching householders as they move through differing pressures and decision making procedures. The thesis finds that households with more experience, and a higher position along the housing ladder were more prepared to make swift energy related changes to a new dwelling and to make it fit better with their norms of comfort. Householders with less experience tend to take a longer term – wait-and-see approach. The thesis finds that householders in mobility try to improve their material culture, which inadvertently changes the way in which they use energy in a new environment. It also highlighted how the social context of the new dwelling can be even more influential in shaping norms, depending on the circumstances. New environments do provide opportunities to stimulate more efficient energy related behaviours, but they must be approached within the context of the housing ladder, and the social context of the household. Depending on these conditions, policy writers and social agencies need to address the types of interventions, and the timing of those interventions.
Advisor: Lawson, Rob; Stephenson, Janet; Wooliscroft, Ben
Degree Name: Doctor of Philosophy
Degree Discipline: Marketing and CSAFE
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: Energy; Context Change; Behaviour Change; Residential Mobility; Domestic Energy Consumption; Consumer Behaviour; Material Culture; Decision Making; Group Decision Making; Practice; Habit; Energy Efficiency; Social Norms; New Zealand
Research Type: Thesis