(How) Can Appliances be Designed to Support Less Energy-Intensive Use? Insights from a Field Study on Kitchen Appliances
Journal article, 2018

This paper presents findings from a study carried out to contribute to the growing knowledge base within the Design for Sustainable Behaviour research field. Coffee makers, electric kettles and toasters were evaluated to explore if and why particular appliances may mediate less energy-intensive use to a greater extent than others. Eighteen participants used three appliances of the same type for two weeks each, during which the participants’ use of the appliances and the resulting energy use were monitored. In addition, semi-structured interviews and online surveys were conducted to explore how the appliances’ functions and overall design influenced energy use. The findings show that both specific functions and the design as a whole form the design characteristics that set preconditions for energy use. The study thus suggests that if appliances are not designed to support energy conservation holistically, there is a risk that aspects that have not been addressed will lead to more energy-intensive use. This makes it essential for designers to consider the full variety of characteristics influencing energy use. Based on the findings, design opportunities were identified and design guidelines formulated. The insights gained highlight new opportunities for design practice that can aid designers in designing for less energy-intensive use.

Design Guidelines

Kitchen Appliances.

Energy Conservation

Design for Sustainable Behaviour


Anneli Selvefors

Chalmers, Industrial and Materials Science, Design and Human Factors

Christian Marx

Chalmers, Architecture and Civil Engineering, Building Technology

MariAnne Karlsson

Chalmers, Industrial and Materials Science, Design and Human Factors

Ulrike Rahe

Chalmers, Industrial and Materials Science, Design and Human Factors

International Journal of Design

1991-3761 (ISSN) 1994-036X (eISSN)

Vol. 12 3 35-55

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 Engineering and Technologies not elsewhere specified

Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified

Areas of Advance

Building Futures (2010-2018)


More information

Latest update

2/4/2022 1