The BeGin project (Energy measures at home: affecting family decision-making) focuses on decision-making dynamics within families with regard to energy saving. It has been funded by the Innovation program MVI-Energy by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO). The BeGin project will conduct in-depth social science research and aims to provide insight into the living experience of families in general and women in particular. It will link their living experience to the decision-making dynamics with regard to domestic energy measures.
When it concerns domestic energy-led retrofit, the living experience of families is often overlooked while research teaches us that people perceive this type of retrofit in terms of comfort and homeliness instead of saving energy. Furthermore, research into living experience has shown that the domestic environment should be seen as an expression of the identity of those who make themselves at home there. Moreover, house and home are not the same. A house is a physical structure, while a home is a feeling enacted by residents through all kinds of practices: through furnishing the rooms, undertaking everyday household tasks, maintaining the house and engaging with relatives indoors and neighbours outdoors. As such, families do not so much maintain and improve their house, rather they make themselves at home continuously and actively. Energy consumption plays a role in that process. The question is how?
Furthermore, with regard to living experience, research has shown that residents feel at home in gender-specific ways. Both women and men find comfort essential, but women attach great importance to aesthetic aspects while men attach importance to technological aspects. Furthermore, in general women identify more with their neighbours and value social engagement in the neighbourhood. This can potentially trickle down into the decision-making process with regard to domestic retrofit measures. Thus, women and men will enrol differently in decision-making processes when it concerns their home. This raises the question how, as a family, people come to those decisions?
The BeGin project will develop a number of practical approaches for affecting family decision-making which will provide the Dutch building and insulation sector with relevant insights and techniques for influencing family decisions at different stages of life with regard to domestic energy measures. Point of focus will be the role of women and children in the decision-making process. To ensure social and practical valorization of research results, different partners cooperate in this research project, among others energy network company Alliander, Hoom, Buurkracht, Dutch Green Building Council, VNG and Vrouwen van Nu.
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