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Accepted Paper:

'Bigger, but not massive': Negotiating ideals of saving energy & having a 'good family home'  
Katherine Ellsworth-Krebs (Lancaster University)

Paper short abstract:

The 'low carbon transition' generally fails to question how excessive lifestyle expectations may curtail energy efficiency. This paper compares householders living in some of the smallest and biggest homes in the Global North to compare norms that are enabling a rise in floor area per capita.

Paper long abstract:

The 'low carbon transition' and 'smart' solutions generally fail to delineate necessary energy uses or question how excessive lifestyle expectations may curtail attempts to achieve ambitious climate change targets. One example of this is that decreasing household sizes globally are resulting in rising space per person which significantly influences energy demand per capita, and is widely recognised to undermine energy savings from improved energy efficiency. Despite increasing contributions by sociologists, historians, and geographers to provide more complex and contextual accounts to inform intervention strategies (e.g. challenging the normalisation of thermal comfort as 21C, which local and cultural ways of coping with variation in indoor temperatures) changes in house and household sizes are missing from these debates. Indeed, rich investigation and offering complex and situated accounts of what happens within the privacy of the home is an area in which anthropology excels, and which presents an avenue for more daring and 'interventionist' anthropological contributions to energy and sustainability discourses. Adopting a quasi-ethnographic approach, involving virtual tours of the home through photos and video with 12 UK and 12 Australian households, this paper explores expectations of floor area per capita in two developed countries: one with some of the smallest (UK) and the other with some of the biggest (Australia) homes in order to critically reflect on cultural variation and understanding of 'normal' home life that are both deliberately and inadvertently enabling a rise in floor area per capita.

Panel P020
At the grid edge: homes, neighbourhoods and energy markets (Energy Anthropology Network)
  Session 1 Tuesday 21 July, 2020, -