Mapping thermal discomfort responses in residential environments
Although much of the research on heating patterns in dwellings has focused on achieving thermal comfort, less is understood about the way occupants form their responses. Existing approaches are based on climate chamber and field study results. For instance Bedford’s series of interviews in 1936 did establish a linear relationship between response types and recorded temperature. This research concluded by setting out an optimum temperature for comfort. More recent studies have focused on adaptive behaviour and have identified factors such as ‘adaptive lag’, ‘adaptive opportunity’ and ‘forgiveness factor’. Recent international agreements on reducing energy consumption have led to a series of interventions in residential buildings; from modifying the building fabric to upgrading operating systems. Yet energy consumed in dwellings continues to rise. Occupant’s behaviour is one of the main reasons for this trend, as people decide to turn up the heating, to leave it on for longer, or to increase the spatial average temperature by heating more rooms.
Consequently it is critical to map-out how a dwelling comfort system is conceptualised and understood by its occupants. This pilot study compares methods to capture the diversity of occupants’ mitigation responses toward thermal discomfort and their effects on residential energy consumption. The research engaged with users through inductive methods drawn from social sciences and cognitive psychology.
During winter of 2010, a small sample of UK households will monitor. The outcomes will help mapping occupiers’ responses and translating them to several occupant mental models of home thermal comfort systems. Further researches include recommendation to systems interfaces design.
Current research interests include dynamics between energy consumption and associated behaviour in residential environments.
Stephanie Gauthier DEFA, DPLG, RIBA, MSc is a PhD student in her second year at the UCL Energy Institute.
Stephanie has over eight years of consultancy experience mostly focused in building and infrastructure. Before joining UCL Stephanie worked at Arup, Atkins and ADPi. These companies operate in a multi-disciplinary mode, where architecture, engineering, cost consultancy, urban design and product design are integrated within one team. As an architect and project manager, she has collaborated on schemes in Abu Dhabi, UK, France and China; including the Oriental Art Center in Shanghai, the King Alfred Development in association with Gehry Partners, BSkyB broadcast center in London and Abu Dhabi National Stadium. Her degree and diploma were in Architecture followed by an MSc in Environmental Design and Engineering.