This article examines whether and how energy retrofitting of owner-occupied dwellings can be understood within the framework of social practice theories. Practice theories help to shift the focus towards more collective approaches and practices, rather than towards individuals. In addressing this question, energy retrofits are described and their variability compared in four European areas: Denmark, Latvia, the Coimbra area in Portugal and Wallonia in Belgium. Although these areas have different geographical, cultural and housing contexts, the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) provides a common form of regulation. As a policy, its main underlying intention is to promote the opportunities for energy retrofitting. Based on an analysis of 60 in-depth interviews with homeowners, it is found that energy retrofitting is not an integrative practice in 2010, despite the EPBD and other efforts to enforce such a practice. This lack of a retrofitting practice exists for a variety of reasons: it is not sustained by common and conventionalized routines, and by shared know-how and goals among relevant actors (e.g. homeowners and craftsmen). Based on practice theories, novel policy recommendations are provided to help to constitute an energy-related renovation practice in detached owner-occupied houses.
Building Research and Information, 2014, Vol 42, Issue 4, p. 525-538