Comfort expectations: the impact of demand-management strategies in Australia

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Australia's residential peak electricity demand is escalating rapidly and causing major distribution and generation challenges for the industry. This rise is largely attributed to converging and rising expectations of comfort in the home, which are being satisfied by Australians' increasing reliance on air-conditioning. Residential demand-management strategies seek to address this by either actively managing consumer demand, or encouraging consumers to act as co-managers of their demand, during peak times. Drawing on interviews with demand-management practitioners from electricity distributors and retailers, the impact of several residential demand-management techniques is considered in relation to comfort expectations. It is argued that utilities delivering demand-management trials are shaping, and being shaped by, 'normal' expectations of comfort. Further social research is called for to assess the impact of demand-management techniques on escalating comfort expectations, and to design and implement strategies that address this fundamental issue.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)381-391
Number of pages11
JournalBuilding Research and Information
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jun 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Adaptive behaviour
  • Air-conditioning
  • Climate change
  • Comfort
  • Demand management
  • Indoor environmental quality
  • Inhabitants
  • Peak demand
  • Residential energy consumption
  • Smart meters

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