Household energy studies: The gap between theory and method

Tracey Crosbie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


At the level of theory it is now widely accepted that energy consumption patterns are a complex technical and socio-cultural phenomenon and to understand this phenomenon, it must be viewed from both engineering and social science perspectives. However, the methodological approaches taken in household energy studies lag behind the theoretical advances made in the last ten or fifteen years. The quantitative research methods traditionally used within the fields of building science, economics, and psychology continue to dominate household energy studies, while the qualitative ethnographic approaches to examining social and cultural phenomena traditionally used within anthropology and sociology are most frequently overlooked. This paper offers a critical review of the research methods used in household energy studies which illustrates the scope and limitations of both qualitative and quantitative research methods in this area of study. In doing so it demonstrates that qualitative research methods are essential to designing effective energy efficiency interventions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)735-753
Number of pages18
JournalEnergy and Environment
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2006


  • Household energy studies
  • Qualitative
  • Quantitative
  • Research methods


Dive into the research topics of 'Household energy studies: The gap between theory and method'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this