Whereas people used to have a central fireplace which needed maintenance and the chopping of wood before winter, modern houses are heated by central heating systems, often tucked away in a closet and fed by an underground natural gas pipeline. A thermostat allows the inhabitants to easily adjust the heat and in many cases to program the system so that it is already heated up by the time they return from work. So far so good, as there seems to be little to object to getting rid of chores. The problem for Borgmann is that the fireplace used to be more than a source of heat. A fireplace was a focus, the center of the house, a place where the family gathered to interact with each other. Chopping wood was not just a way to make sure one did not freeze to death in the winter; it connected people with their surroundings, so they learned to appreciate the gifts of nature. By commodifying heat, these engaging practices were lost and a one-dimensional consumption remained. Disengaging technologies like a central heating system are called devices, as opposed to traditional things. “Commodities, in comparison with focal things, are highly reduced entities and abstract in the sense that within the overall framework of technology they are free of local and historical ties” (TCCL, p. 81). The device paradigm leads people to focus more and more on the consumption of commodities, while engagement with one’s surroundings becomes increasingly difficult.
Related and good and quite brief was "Energy and Equity" by Ivan Illich, found here:the very notion that time is saved when not having to spend it on all kinds of chores anymore is only possible from the perspective of the device paradigm, because within this perspective, labor is seen as “mere means.” The thorough separation of means and ends makes us “exaggerate the liberating character of the transformation of work and thus cover up the concomitant cultural and social losses” (TCCL, p. 119).
https://web.archive.org/web/20151222231 ... Equity.pdf