Consumer engagement in low-carbon home energy in the United Kingdom: Implications for future energy system decentralization

Aimie Hope, Thomas Roberts, Ian Walker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (SciVal)


There are competing visions for what future low-carbon energy systems might look like. However, it is likely that consumers will be more actively involved in managing their energy use. Consequently, there is likely to be some disruption to the current rhythm of everyday domestic social practices. This paper considers what we can learn from people who already take a more active role in managing their energy supply, with the aim of identifying transferable lessons that could be applied to future energy system decentralization. We compare two case studies focused on people with different levels of grid connectivity - people living off-grid on narrowboats and living in semi-grid connected houses in rural Norfolk. We find that where people had constraints on their energy use, they responded in three main ways. First, they diversified their energy supplies, including adopting traditional fuels such as coal and wood. Second, people planned, monitored and shifted their energy use, responding in ways favorable to micro-generation and demand-side response. Third, people curtailed energy use. We propose that UK households may respond in similar ways to decentralized energy. Finally we consider the implications of our findings for future energy policy aimed at decentralizing energy production and supply.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)362-370
Number of pages9
JournalEnergy Research and Social Science
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2018


  • Micro-Generation
  • Off-Grid
  • Renewable energy
  • Social practice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering
  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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