Topic Lunch Presentation – “Mapping personal thermal comfort – an application to dwellings” by Stephanie Gauthier (UCL Energy Institute)

By Stephanie Gauthier, on 29 November 2012

What do people do to warm-up when they become too cold in their home?

This simple question is both surprisingly important and hard to answer. It is important because about a sixth of all the UK’s energy is used to heat homes. It is hard to answer because most of what people do is done out of habit, and they find it hard to reliably remember these habits and tell us about them.

This lunch presentation introduced the methods applied in my PhD project, where a mixed-methods framework is used to map people’s daily activity, by measuring environmental and physiological variables. One of the key aims is to gather accurate measurements using ‘discreet’ observatory systems in order to have a minimum impact on occupants’ behaviour. By using ubiquitous sensors a rich picture of people’s variability in daily activity can be drawn over continuous timeframe. See the example output below showing monitored heart-rate and accelerometer output over a 2 hours sequence for 1 participant. The results from both sensors were combined, and then validated by a visual diary.

In conclusion, mapping occupants’ thermal discomfort responses can potentially help understand, conceptualise and influence some of the practices driving energy demand.

Publications of this research may be found under this link:


This presentation was given as part of the Environmental Sustainability Topic Lunch Series.