Designed to support or impede energy conservation? How design characteristics influence people’s energy use
Journal article, 2017

This paper explores how the design of domestic appliances influences people’s energy use during everyday activities. Drawing on findings from an interview study with 81 informants, a variety of design characteristics were uncovered, which set preconditions for use that in different ways impede or support energy conservation. The identified characteristics did not only concern appliances’ operative functions but also their interactive and communicative functions as well as people’s underlying motives for using specific appliances. Addressing the full range of characteristics during the development of new appliances will highlight a variety of design opportunities and increase the possibilities for developing appliances that support people to go about their everyday activities in less energy-reliant ways.

energy use

domestic electricity consumption

energy conservation

product design


design for sustainable behaviour



design characteristics


Anneli Selvefors

Industrial and Materials Science

Jesper Knutsson

Chalmers, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Water Environment Technology

Christian Marx

Chalmers, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Ulrike Rahe

Chalmers, Product and Production Development, Design and Human Factors

Journal of Design Research

1748-3050 (ISSN) 1569-1551 (eISSN)

Vol. 15 1 43-61

Home Energy Management (HEM)

The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), 2014-01-01 -- 2016-12-31.

Driving Forces

Sustainable development

Subject Categories


Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified

Areas of Advance




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