Energy Cultures 1

Energy Cultures (2009-2012) was an interdisciplinary research project which developed a better understanding of household energy behaviour, and of opportunities to support adoption of more energy-efficient practices and technologies.  The research team backgrounds included human geography, physics, economics, marketing, and law.


The core research team in Energy Cultures 1: Prof Gerry Carrington, Dr Paul Thorsnes, Dr Janet Stephenson, Prof Rob Lawson (all from Otago University), Prof Barry Barton (Waikato University).


The Energy Cultures framework

The Energy Cultures framework was developed by the research team to help understand the drivers of energy-related behaviours, and to help direct attention to the parts of the system that may benefit from change in order to influence energy behaviour in a desired way. The framework (see diagram) depicts energy behaviour as primarily arising from the interactions between three components: norms (individual and shared expectations about what is ‘normal behaviour’), material culture (physical aspects of a home including the form of the building and energy-related technologies) and energy practices (energy-related actions). These in turn are subject to broader influences that are largely outside of the individual’s control, such as standards, subsidies, energy pricing and social marketing campaigns which directly shape householders’ norms, material culture and energy practices.

Figure 1: Energy Cultures Framework


The research involved ten research streams (hyperlink to Research Streams below), with the Energy Cultures framework acting to integrate findings.  Reports, publications and selected conference presentations (hyperlink to further down the page) can be found below.

Key Findings

(i)        Policy design should consider the triple role of norms, material culture and energy p