A Mixed-Methods Approach for Evaluating the Influence of Residential Practices for Thermal Comfort on Electricity Consumption in Auroville, India

Kumar Biswajit Debnath, Olufolahan Osunmuyiwa, David P. Jenkins, Andrew D. Peacock

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Abstract

With rapid global economic growth and a rise in disposable household income, particularly within a progressively warming planet, the escalating demand for energy to achieve thermal comfort has become a salient concern in the Global South, notably in emerging economies like India. This burgeoning need for cooling solutions has not only underscored the vital role of energy consumption but has also accentuated the imperative of comprehending the ensuing implications for electricity policy and strategic planning, particularly within the ambit of the Global South. This study explored the nuanced landscape of active cooling within an intentional community, Auroville, in southern India, aiming to discern the factors underpinning household preferences and practices in the pursuit of thermal comfort. Employing a mixed-methods approach, this study contributed empirically and methodologically to the interdisciplinary discourse by analysing residential electricity consumption patterns and cooling practices within selected households in the specified community. The study unfolded in three methodological stages: firstly, an analysis of climatic data coupled with an environmental stress index (ESI) assessment; secondly, the monitoring of end-user electricity consumption followed by rigorous data analysis; and lastly, the utilisation of qualitative in-depth interviews and observational techniques. This study’s outcome yielded empirical insights into the unprecedented shifts in the ESI for Auroville since 2014. Furthermore, the study unravelled the intricate complexities inherent in occupant behaviour within residential structures, thereby offering valuable insights into the practices that shape householders’ cooling preferences. This research enriched the understanding of the dynamics of energy consumption in the pursuit of thermal comfort and contributes to the broader discourse on sustainable development and energy policy in the context of climate change.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)112-133
Number of pages22
JournalElectricity
Volume5
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2024

Keywords

  • behaviours and practices
  • energy demand
  • mixed method
  • residential building
  • thermal comfort
  • warm-humid climate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Energy (miscellaneous)
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

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