The authors are associated with CREE—the Oslo Centre for Research on Environmentally friendly Energy—which is supported by the Research Council of Norway.
This article presents and discusses results from an empirical study of people’s uses of various types of heat pumps in Norwegian homes. We analyze the rebound effect from a practice theory perspective. In-depth interviews were conducted with 28 homes in 2012 and 2013, and in two cases, we observed the process and aftermath of the installations of heat pumps. We disentangle the motives behind people’s acquisition of heat pumps and examine how heat pumps are taken in use, that is, the ways heat pumps form part of—and modify—the social practices into which they are integrated, whether related to heating, comfort, time management, or other routines and concerns. The results show that a comfort rebound effect (direct rebound) is at work in two specific senses. First, a “temporal rebound” occurs as people expand the amount of time the home is heated. Secondly, the heat pump enables a physical expansion of the heated space, which we refer to as the “spatial rebound”. We show that three sources of agency contribute to these shifts: people’s own practical knowledge, expert knowledge, and the heat pump’s embedded script. Our findings indicate that the ways that heat pumps are viewed and used differ significantly between the suppliers who promote them and the households who buy and use them.