Archived Seminars

HEAPs of change: Warmer, drier and more energy efficient homes
Presenter: Rebecca Ford, Seth Gorrie & Chris Freear
November 1, 4-5pm
Centre for Sustainability,


Most people living in Dunedin will already be aware of the energy-related problems associated with the residential housing stock. Many homes, particularly those in the rental market, are poorly insulated, and consequently households are subjected to sub-optimal indoor temperatures, dampness, mould, and high power bills. Although a large number of these problems stem from poor construction, there are many actions that households can undertake, both technical and behavioural, to improve their circumstances and achieve warmer, drier, and more energy efficient homes.

This seminar will present the Energy Cultures ?Household Energy Advice Project?, or HEAP, a study designed to investigate the effect of providing home energy advice to residents in three Dunedin suburbs: North East Valley, Blueskin Bay, and Brockville. Residents in North East Valley and Blueskin Bay have been offered ?free? Home Energy Audits. Residents in Brockville have been invited to participate in 3 community-based Energy Events, where they are offered free energy advice and opportunities for networking with other residents in their community. Our research questions the comparative effectiveness of these two different approaches in helping to: (1) increase people?s energy awareness or energy literacy; (2) shift norms and expectations around domestic energy use; and (3) induce technology and practice changes in the way that people use energy in their homes. As participation in these types of energy programs is voluntary, we are also conducting phone interviews to find out about people?s perceptions of the HEAP. This presentation will report on our findings to date from the HEAP.

About the speakers:

Rebecca Ford is a research fellow in the University of Otago?s Centre for Sustainability. Her work is focussed mainly on the research and development of technological solutions that enhance the way in which individuals interact with energy feedback and information. Before moving to New Zealand, Becky completed a D.Phil in the Engineering Department at the University of Oxford in the UK. Her work focused on developing algorithms and techniques for use in feedback technologies to enable disaggregation of domestic energy consumption by appliance type. During this time a spin out company was formed, where Becky worked as a research assistant, conducting residential feedback trials and product testing.

Seth Gorrie is a research assistant in the University of Otago?s Centre for Sustainability. He is of Samoan descent who was drawn to Dunedin as an inaugural recipient of the University of Otago M?ori and Pacific Island Entrance Scholarship in 2006. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Geography from the University of Otago and recently completed an MSc in Geography as a recipient of a University of Otago Pacific Island Postgraduate Scholarship. His thesis focused on the scientific and cultural parameters of bioenergy success in Samoa in order to illustrate how integrating both understandings could potentially foster improved levels of renewable energy development success in the Pacific Islands region more broadly.

Chris Freear is a wind energy specialist originally from Canterbury. His passion for sustainability and renewable energy systems have dominated a career spent in the energy industry. He has worked in most areas from domestic household space and water heating to industrial natural gas, from energy efficiency and waste minimization to the consent, construction and operation of New Zealand?s first indigenous wind farm. Chris has also served as director of the NZ Wind Energy Association, as chair of Little River Railtrail Charitable Trust and was founding CEO of NZ Windfarms.

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