Can qualitative methods support the development of more flexible and energy saving thermal comfort?

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Keyword: Thermal comfort, Qualitative methods, Sweden, Flexibility, Energy saving
Publication year: 2006
Relevant Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):
SDG 7 Affordable and clean energySDG 11 Sustainable cities and communitiesSDG 12 Responsible consumption and production
The SDG label(s) above have been assigned by


This paper uses examples from a Swedish study to suggest some ways in which cultural variation could be included in studies of thermal comfort. It is shown how only a slight shift of focus and methodological approach could help us discover aspects of human life that add to previous knowledge within comfort research of how human beings perceive and handle warmth and cold. It is concluded that it is not enough for buildings, heating systems and thermal control devices to be energy-efficient in a mere technical sense. If these are to help to decrease, rather than to increase, energy consumption, they have to support those parts of already existing habits and modes of thought that have the potential for low energy use. This is one reason why culture-specific features and emotional cores need to be investigated and deployed into the study and development of thermal comfort.


Annette Henning

Högskolan Dalarna; Miljöteknik
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