PhD defence: The Home, the Family and the Energy Advisor: Social and Gendered Engagements in Energy Renovations and Flexible Electricity Use

PhD defence

Anne Lise Tjørring


Denmark has the ambitious goal of becoming fossil-free by 2050. The responsibility of accomplishing the 2050 goal has been partly delegated to local energy companies, which are now obligated by law to reduce their customers’ energy consumption. One of the energy companies' main target groups are private households, which account for approximately 30% of total energy consumption.

This industrial PhD thesis results from a partnership with the Danish energy company SE. Based on the anthropological methods of participant observation and qualitative interviews, the households are investigated from within. The empirical focus is on the households' potential to perform energy renovations of their homes and adopt flexible electricity use.

Four papers investigate what characterises the social and gendered engagements among the home, the family and the energy advisor and the implications that these engagements have for energy renovations and flexible electricity use.

Main findings are: 1) due to gendered energy consuming practices and social gender norms mainly women came to be responsible for flexible electricity use and mainly men came to be responsible for energy renovations, and 2) whereas the energy advisor perceived the home as a technical construction to be improved, the people living there perceived it a home embedded with social meanings. Four of those social meanings were investigated and found to relate to decisions on energy renovations: people's position in the lifecycle, personal events, social relations, historical conditions and social status.

These findings call for new methods to increase the number of energy renovations and the likelihood of adopting flexible electricity use. We must focus on the home not only as a technical issue that can be improved but also as a dwelling space that contains gendered practices, cultural norms and social engagements among the home, the family and the energy advisor.


Tove Enggrob Boon, Associate professor, Department of Food and Resource Economics, University of Copenhagen, Denmark (principal supervisor)

Quentin Gausset, Associate professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Per Munk Jensen, SE, Denmark

Assessment Committee

Iben Nathan, Associate professor, Department of Food and Resource Economics, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Jenny Palm, Professor, International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics, Lund University, Sweden

Matt Watson, Senior lecturer, Department of Geography, University of Sheffield, UK

If you are interested in a full copy of the thesis, you can contact the PhD student or the supervisor.