Understanding energy practices: a case for qualitative research

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While researching the adoption of residential solar electric technology through a comparative two-state case study, participating solar electric technology adopters indicated some ways that policy—namely, the structure of incentives provided via their state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS), local rebate program incentives, and the requirements for eligibility to receive economic incentives—influenced their energy behaviors both prior to and after installing solar electricity at home. Arguably, insight into the nuances of their energy practices emerged as a function of research design involving a qualitative interview process that allowed for unstudied and unpredicted responses during the interview process. This note makes a case for using qualitative research methods to understand energy behaviors as a method for exploring energy practices, consistent with an emergent emphasis on practice theory in studies of natural resource consumption.

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Rights managed by Taylor & Francis. Publisher's version of record: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08941920.2015.1089613