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This paper examines how the ways in which consumers use energy are shaped, not only by practice (Shove, Pantzar and Watson, 2012), but by biographically attachments to ways of life which relate to place and identity. Understanding how practices which require the consumption of energy may be transformed is vital for any transition towards socio-environmental sustainability. However, theorising and explaining the role of individual agency in practice change continues to present challenges. In this paper we address this issue by employing concepts of complex subjectivity to analyse some psychosocial dimensions of energy consumption. In particular, we focus on how a narrative interview-based and multimodal approach to understanding practice can render visible conflicts between different definitions of ‘need’ or the purpose of practices, which often develop into different (and sometimes incommensurable) forms of normative justification for engaging in different practices. Drawing on interviews conducted as part of the Energy Biographies project at Cardiff University, we show that engaging in practices is bound up with particular attachments that are seen by interviewees as constitutive of identity and of visions of ‘the good life’ or particular ways of determining what is ‘right’ in a given situation. Lifecourse transitions may produce conflicts between such normative frameworks which can create obstacles to the transformation of practices that are unaccounted for by practice theory.