Heating Swedish houses: A discussion about decisions, change and stability
This paper discusses the nature of household decision-making as well as the connections between decisions, change and stability. It is based on field research among Swedish householders who have recently replaced old heating systems in their single-family houses. Ongoing fieldwork is also carried out in companies that sell pre-fabricated houses, as well as among the men and women who are buying such houses and are in the process of creating the home of their dreams. The discussion is carried out bearing in mind global warming and a Swedish national energy target. It is widely assumed that one important way of reaching this target is by using subsidies and information to persuade households to make wiser decisions on consumption. The research results show a more complex picture of decision-making involving gendered decisions, social decisions, limited options, emotions, and decisions made by others or, seemingly, by no one. Furthermore, this paper discusses how slow-to-change cultural structures are able to restrict or influence individual decisions and actions, but also to be modified by them.