Limit My Energy Use! An In-Situ Exploration of a Smart Home System Featuring an Adaptive Energy Threshold
Conference contribution, 2019

The ongoing increase of ‘smart’ home technologies could facilitate for households to shift energy demand to contribute to balancing increasingly fluctuating energy supply from renewable sources. Yet, although many smart home technologies support energy saving, few of the commercially available smart home systems actually facilitate demand shifting and instead highlight other features, such as home security or convenience. The study presented here aimed (i) designing a smart energy system that enables balancing energy demand and supply and (ii) exploring what happens when households are equipped with such a smart home system. In the system developed, called Ero, households’ energy use is related to the status of the energy system through a momentary power threshold and users can match their use of energy-reliant appliances to the threshold. Findings showed that a majority of the participants, in different ways, started to relate their energy use to the status of the energy system. Most of them appreciated the idea of having an energy threshold and some wanted stricter energy limitations. Yet, as the participants lived in small apartments and controlled a limited number of energy-reliant appliances only a few of them were able to make Ero an integrated part of everyday activities. Further, many of them questioned the extent to which their demand-shifting could contribute as their energy-reliant appliances were thought to not use much energy. Instead, the participants considered other paths towards a more sustainable energy system to be important, such as influencing decisions made by companies, politicians, and non-governmental organisations. The problem was however that Ero did not provide any support for how to influence beyond the individual household. To conclude, an energy focused smart home system can facilitate shifting energy demand and would be relevant for homes controlling bigger loads, such as electric vehicles or washing machines. Yet, such smart home systems cannot be considered a necessity in the quest for a more sustainable energy future.

sustainability

smart home

research through design

smart grid

energy use

Author

Sara Renström

Chalmers, Industrial and Materials Science, Design and Human Factors

Sofie Hagejärd

Chalmers, Architecture and Civil Engineering, Architectural theory and methods

Andreas Jonasson

IT-avdelningen

Ulrike Rahe

Chalmers, Architecture and Civil Engineering, Architectural theory and methods

Katharina Merl

Chalmers, Industrial and Materials Science, Design and Human Factors

Boid AB

Mikael Sundgren

Boid AB

19th Conference of the European Roundtable on Sustainable Consumption and Production (ERSCP): Circular Europe for Sustainability – Design, Production and Consumption
Barcelona, Spain,

Areas of Advance

Information and Communication Technology

Energy

Driving Forces

Sustainable development

Innovation and entrepreneurship

Subject Categories

Interaction Technologies

Energy Systems

Infrastructure

HSB living lab

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4/1/2020 1