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An ethnography of installation: exploring the role of heating engineers in shaping the energy consumed through domestic central heating systems

Wade, FM; (2016) An ethnography of installation: exploring the role of heating engineers in shaping the energy consumed through domestic central heating systems. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis provides an exploratory account of the ways in which the installation of domestic central heating systems can shape the energy they consume. Space heating is the single most significant contributor to domestic energy consumption in the UK. Despite evidence to suggest that the installer and installation process are influential in shaping this, these have been subject to very little enquiry to date. Instead, attempts to reduce the energy consumed through central heating systems have sought to improve the technical efficiency of the system components, or assumed an economic rationale to encourage end users to operate their heating in more efficient ways. Thus far, these approaches have not yielded the energy reductions necessary to meet the UK government’s 2050 targets to reduce carbon emissions by 80%, on 1990 levels. Given the extremely limited research into central heating installation, or with installers, a highly qualitative, flexible and culturally sensitive method is required to explore these. Consequently, this investigation has adopted an ethnographic approach, including interviewing heating engineers, shadowing them in domestic properties, observing manufacturer training sessions, and spending time in plumbers’ merchants, to reveal several distinct aspects of installation that can shape the energy subsequently consumed through central heating systems. These include heating engineers’ shared identities, learning and membership within a community of practice; their relationships with plumbers’ merchants and sales representatives; the materials and technologies involved in the installation process; and engineers’ experiences and assumptions of end users. Evidently, there are multiple ways in which the installer and installation process can have a significant role in shaping the energy consumed through domestic central heating systems. If we are to achieve energy savings in the built environment, it is vital that academics and policy makers more fully consider these intermediary actors and processes.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: An ethnography of installation: exploring the role of heating engineers in shaping the energy consumed through domestic central heating systems
Event: UCL
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > Bartlett School Env, Energy and Resources
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Geography
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1476959
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