Smale, Robin; Spaargaren, Gert; Van Vliet, Bas
Wageningen University, Netherlands, The
Smart grids are a key feature of future energy scenarios in Europe, intended to facilitate more sustainable patterns of energy consumption which match (renewable) energy generation. Householders would become domestic energy co-managers, who, by monitoring and timing their consumption, contribute to the sustainability and stability of the energy grid. However, the roll-out of smart grids constitutes an intervention into established domestic energy practices. Individualistic and economic understandings of householders do not provide adequate insight into the dynamics of everyday energy consuming behaviour. The enrolment and empowerment of householders in smart grids is a complex and problematic process. In this paper, a literature review is combined with interviews conducted with householders and system actors to shed light on the role of householders in co-shaping the smart grid through energy practices. A dynamic practice-theory-based model is presented which conceptualizes domestic energy practices as relatively stable patterns of behaviour. At the same time they are embedded in energy systems of provision under change and (re-)produced through (inter)actions within households. In addition, the paper addresses new interactions between householders, individual and shared learning trajectories, and renegotiations of domestic moral economies and standards of comfort, cleanliness and convenience. It is argued that a thorough understanding of these processes of change in domestic energy practices will lead to better informed policy interventions concerning the roll out of smart grid infrastructures in Europe.