Thesis title: Investigating the role of plumbers in providing the most appropriate central heating solutions to householders.
Name: Faye Wade
Primary supervisor: David Shipworth
Secondary supervisor: Michelle Shipworth
Starting date: September 2011
Projected completion date: September 2014 Dwellings contribute between 29 - 31 % to total UK energy use; fortunately there is large scope for energy reduction in this area, particularly through improvements in built form and changes to occupant behaviour. The way that people use their heating system, for example the rooms they choose to heat and to what temperature can influence domestic energy use hugely. There is a subsequent requirement to investigate the underlying reasons for householders' understanding and operating of their central heating systems. It has been recognised that a key actor in this understanding is the plumber.
As the installer of the central heating system, the plumber is influential in disseminating information to the homeowner. The plumber has the final decision on the location of radiators and thermostatic control; furthermore, the occupant will often seek out the plumber as an advisor for their central heating. By installing, and advising on, the central heating system and controls in a certain way the plumber plays a significant role in shaping the space of future behavioural possibilities of the occupants with regard to their central heating system.
This project recognises that thorough investigation of both plumbing practises and domestic central heating requirements is needed and decision support may be required to improve current practises. Initially, the project will use qualitative research techniques to uncover detailed information about these interactions. Methods on the intersection of qualitative observation and ethnography will be used to shadow plumbers in the field. Qualitative interviews will be used to uncover detailed information from both plumbers and homeowners. This information will then be used to assess the requirements of decision support for plumbers when installing the most appropriate central heating solutions.
I joined the London-Loughborough Centre for Doctoral Research in Energy Demand to pursue my interest in anthropogenic influences on the environment. I recently completed a Master of Research year with the Centre, where I am based at the UCL Energy Institute. The year included taught courses regarding energy demand reduction in the built environment from both technical and social perspectives. There was a focus on research, which accumulated in a dissertation on the potential sources of conflict with shared office lighting controls. This project introduced me to social research practises; I have chosen to develop my skills in social research further through my PhD; which is centred on qualitative research methods.
Prior to UCL, I completed a Master's degree in Chemistry at the University of York. This included a year in industry, working as an analytical chemist with a large pharmaceutical company.