What matters? Unlocking householders’ flexibility towards cooling automation in India
Journal article, 2023

In emerging economies like India, where air conditioners are projected to triple by 2050 — mostly from household use — demand response programs such as cooling automation have gained currency as a suitable approach to address peak electricity from cooling demand. Environmentally commoning/intentional communities are classic contexts in which flexible cooling consumption might be easily realised. Utilising materialist theory and a six-month cooling automation trial and workshops with twenty households in an intentional community in South India, this study explores factors that shape householders’ pliability or rejection of cooling automation. Results reveal that while commoning identity plays a significant role in householders' flexibility towards automation, extreme heat creates a clash between householders' environmental beliefs and comfort needs, altering their response to automation. We conclude by discussing the theoretical implications arising from these findings and suggest how utilities could respond to these dynamics to foster a transition to a low-carbon energy system.

Demand response

Air conditioner

Hot-humid climates

Cooling automation

User behaviour

Intentional communities


Olufolahan Osunmuyiwa

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Environmental Systems Analysis

Andrew D. Peacock

Heriot-Watt University

Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions

2210-4224 (ISSN)

Vol. 47 100704

Subject Categories

Social Sciences Interdisciplinary

Other Engineering and Technologies not elsewhere specified

Other Environmental Engineering



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