As the UK moves towards a low carbon electrified economy, household level generation of renewable energy will play a key part in reducing peak demand. A knowledge gap remains concerning manual demand shifts that are made as a response to household level microgeneration. This thesis looks at household practices that are manually shifted by the householder to align with the production of self-generated energy and employs a thematic analysis of semi-structured interviews carried out on a sample of 34 households.
This thesis argues that a moment of material change occurs when households supplement their grid energy supply with self-generated renewable energy and pursues an approach informed by social practice theory to explore the resulting changes in household practices. It takes a stance that recognises that household energy consumption practices are interwoven: rather than considering distinct individual practices, a wider approach is taken looking at clusters or bundles of practices to enable a more effective exploration of the flexibility within the timing of practices. Whilst this in itself is not a new concept and aligns with the approach of the majority of contemporary practice thought, the novel element of this research is that it uses this approach to consider changes in practice catalysed by the introduction of renewable energy in the household.
Results are presented in terms of how differing levels and patterns of occupancy interact with household practices and energy use. Collective practices and high numbers of fundamental anchor points add to the perception of householders feeling that they are time-squeezed. In contrast, high levels of occupancy increase the time available to the householder to perform energy related practices and thus the feeling of time-squeeze is reduced. In terms of flexibility of clusters of practices, results align with contemporary research: domestic cleaning practices have higher levels of flexibility. The most frequent adaptation seen was the time shifting of laundry practices to coordinate with times of abundant renewable energy supply. Population heterogeneity means that conclusions cannot be drawn too widely beyond the sample population, however results are explored in a more generalised context of policy and possible implications against the background of the move towards an electrified economy.