As the world continues to deal with climate-induced heat events, sustainable energy behaviours, or lifestyles combined with non-behavioural interventions have been identified as crucial pathways to curb the demand for air conditioners. Typically, ecological communities serve as a reference point for sustainable lifestyles as they have strong environmental self-identity and values and are more likely to further engage in pro-environmental and energy-saving actions. Yet, it is unknown if individuals within these communities will act as expected, especially when confronted with extreme climatic challenges like heatwaves. It is also unclear which factors will define individual responses to these challenges. Utilising environmental self-identity and Value-Belief-Norm theories, this paper examines factors underlying cooling consumption behaviours of households living in a Universal Community with strong environmental world views in India. Twenty in-depth qualitative interviews with residents, thematically analysed, found that while people expressed strong environmental self-identity, preferences for air conditioner use was often mediated by hedonic factors such as comfort and sleep. Moral norms played a positive role in how people operated their air conditioners. Yet, when faced with the choice of using energy-efficient air conditioners, biospheric concern was of limited importance while situational factors like cost and functionality were more pivotal. The above results raise interesting questions around the difficulties that might emerge in changing preferences around air conditioning behaviours in non-environmental communities, especially, if environmentally conscious communities which are expected to be “the locus of change for energy efficiency actions” are significantly influenced by hedonic values.
Osunmuyiwa, O. O., Payne, S. R., Vigneswara Ilavarasan, P., Peacock, A. D., & Jenkins, D. P. (2020). I cannot live without air conditioning! The role of identity, values and situational factors on cooling consumption patterns in India. Energy Research and Social Science, 69, . https://doi.org/10.1016/j.erss.2020.101634