PSI seminar, 30 September: Everyday adaptation and innovation in keeping homes warm


Room M220, University of Westminster, 35 Marylebone Road, London, NW1 5LS

Sarah Royston

This talk focuses on thermal management at home, and explores some of the everyday innovations and adaptations people use when trying to limit their energy use and keep warm.

This includes, for example, do-it-yourself home improvement; improvised forms of insulation and heating; novel ways of using appliances and technologies; and craft and the creation of new ‘products’. These everyday innovations are ignored by most energy efficiency policies, but may make a real difference to consumer experiences of thermal comfort, and to energy use.

The talk focuses on the questions:

  • How do consumers innovate and adapt in trying to keep warm efficiently?
  • What factors support or limit these adaptations and innovations?

It draws on Social Practice Theory and Science and Technology Studies to discuss how everyday adaptation and innovation are bound up with materials, know-how, shared understandings and rules.

Sarah Royston is a Researcher at the Association for the Conservation of Energy, where she works on the social science of energy consumption, fuel poverty and energy efficiency policy.  She previously worked on the RCUK project ‘Reducing Energy Consumption through Community Knowledge Networks’ at Keele University, and completed a PhD at the University of York on sustainable lifestyles. With a background in Geography, Sustainable Development and Social Policy, her research is often interdisciplinary. Sarah’s current interests include the role of know-how and sensory experience in energy consumption; ‘folk’ heating practices; and energy vulnerability throughout the life-course.

A sandwich lunch will be provided, and the talk will be followed by an opportunity for informal discussion. Please RSVP to Bridget Elliott (