JUSTHEAT: Looking back, moving forwards: a social and cultural history of home heating

Home heating is a major source of greenhouse gases, therefore reducing the carbon footprint of our heating systems is a priority in the context of the climate emergency. This will be achieved through the introduction of low carbon heating systems to our homes, controlled through ‘smart’ systems which are technologically complex and need much less input from us.

Home heating transitions are deeply personal and significantly affect the way people use energy, triggering deeper changes to our societies, economies and cultures. Heating transitions affect our everyday lives in many different ways such as changing our routines, the way we divide labour between genders, the rooms we use in the home, how we relate to each other within families and the kinds of jobs we do. This will not be the first major change to home heating that many of us have experienced. Many will remember the shift from burning coal or wood to central or district heating but efforts to learn lessons from those transitions to ensure that future heating transitions can be fairer and smoother have been very limited.

Within this project, we aim to understand how major changes to home heating and heating technology over the last 70 years have been designed, managed and experienced, how they have impacted our lives and what lessons we might learn for the current transition to low carbon systems. We do this through oral history interviews where members of the public in case study locations around the UK, Sweden, Finland and Romania tell us in detail about their memories of keeping warm at home throughout their lives and the ways their lives have been affected by changes to home heating systems and routines.

Artists appointed in each country will build exhibitions to show how heating has affected our lives in different ways over time and to start public conversations about a fair and progressive low carbon future for heating. We will work with communities leading, resisting and excluded from heating transitions to assemble a lasting archive of multi-media accounts of lived experiences of heating transitions, illustrating how they impact unevenly yet deeply on our everyday lives. These lived experiences will help put policy makers designing low carbon heating transitions in touch with their consequences for our everyday lives, helping to create a fairer future for home heating where the negative impacts of technological and digital innovation are understood and addressed.


  • Project Leader: Aimee Ambrose, Sheffield Hallam University, The Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research, United Kingdom, e-mail
  • Jenny Palm, Lund University, International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics (IIIEE), Sweden, e-mail
  • Sofie Pelsmakers, Associate Professor, Tampere University, Faculty of Built Environment, Finland, e-mail
  • George Jiglau, Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj, Romania, Political Science, Romania


  • Anna Mattsson, Skane Energy Agency
  • Rosa Ozgen Sundin, Solar Region Skane
  • Horia Petran, Association for Nearly Zero Carbon Buildings
  • Andrei Ceclan, Romanian Society of Energy Auditors and Energy Managers
  • Tanja Suni, Ministry of the Environment
  • Atte Harjanne, Green Parliamentary Group
  • Suvi Holm, Eco Fellows Ltd
  • Eeva Primmer, Finnish Environment Institute
  • Sea Rotmann, The International Energy Agency Technology Collaboration Programme
  • Eleanor Batteux, The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, UK Government
  • Helen Stockton, National Energy Action (Charity)

 Start date

26 September 2022

Project duration

30 months

 Project budget

€ 1 382 025

Funding organisations