Scripts of heat: Existing houses, new residents and the alignment of heating practices. Mikko Jalas

mikkoDo houses make us act in certain ways? What practical momentum do they exert on those who own or occupy them? To what extent do houses – as complex material configurations – prefigure practices?

Mikko and Jenny have been thinking about these questions with the help of some interviews with people who have moved into existing houses and had to learn how to live in and with them.   The idea that a house ‘scripts’ the actions of its occupants makes sense – to some extent – but it also raises further questions, for example, who ‘wrote’ that script? Was it the original designer (if any), the previous generations of occupants, who modified the home, the current owner who is reshaping the home for the future, or all of the above?  The idea of aligning the new owners’ experience, competence and expectation with the home helped conceptualise some of the changes made.  Intriguingly, the technical professionals involved – such as the surveyors or heating experts – sometimes acted as the ‘voice’ of the house itself: for instance, ‘saying’ that the heating system should not yet be replaced, or perhaps suggesting that it should.  There is some evidence that incoming house owners make lots of changes (e.g. adding heat pumps)  in the first couple of years. After that, it seems that people put up with the house as it is: some interia sets in, and the mutual alignment of house and occupants ‘settles down’.    In exploring these and other questions, Mikko and Jenny began to explore the complicated, interactive and iterative relation people have with the bundle of materialities they call home.

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