Identifying design opportunities for reduced household resource consumption: exploring practices of thermal comfort
by Lenneke Kuijer; Annelise De Jong
J. of Design Research (JDR), Vol. 10, No. 1/2, 2012


Abstract: Heating of dwellings forms a large portion of society's energy use. To avoid the lock-in infrastructures and increasingly demanding expectations of comfort caused by technologies that aim to offer comfort in more energy efficient ways, design should consider comfort as a variable social construct. Such a view on comfort requires a focus on social practices – the fundamental unit of analysis in theories of practice – rather than on technologies or behaviours. This paper proposes and illustrates a practice-oriented approach in which design opportunities to offer people a wider variety of ways to achieve thermal comfort are identified and explored. A study into current practices, placed into a historical and wider cultural context, revealed that there are opportunities for design in (re-)introducing person heating as an addition to increasingly dominant space heating. A 'trigger-product' study involved participants to further explore possible ways of person heating in the context of their own homes.

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