Participating in Energy Systems through Everyday Designs – Exploring roles for households in a more sustainable energy future
The findings showed that the roles households considered playing in energy systems were framed by (i) roles performed by peers, (ii) available and accessible energy-reliant and energy-managing artefacts, (iii) existing business models, (iv) available infrastructure, and (v) policy and regulation. The roles were framed into three so-called meta-roles named Reception, Interplay, and Balance.
Within Reception, households receive standardised amounts and variants of services from the energy system, such as a pre-set indoor temperature.
Within Interplay, the households’ meta-role is to use some kind of interplay with the energy system to optimise energy services for their individual preferences, for example low cost. Finally, within Balance, the households’ meta-role is to balance their individual preferences with what is preferable from an energy system perspective, for instance without benefits to be part of time-shifting energy use to cut peaks in demand.
In Reception and Interplay, the reduction in environmental impact is restricted to either what can be achieved without households’ active contribution or when reductions in environmental impact align with personal preferences, respectively. Balance, although uncommon and therefore unvalidated, was therefore considered most promising to mitigate climate change.
Evaluations of two prototypes intended to support reduced negative energy-related environmental impact showed such possibilities, and additionally that Reception and Interplay could be challenged by designing artefacts that:
- encourage households to make compromises and ask for efforts;
- make the connection between energy supply and demand explicit (reconnecting supply and demand);
- provide a possibility to feel like active participants (instead of discouraging active participation through automation);
- provide a possibility for influencing energy-related decisions made by energy companies or (local) authorities; and
- focus on energy-reliant activities and not (only) on energy-managing activities.
Artefacts are however just one of the five aspects found to frame meta-roles. In order to not only challenge but also change a prevailing meta-role, the other aspects would need to align.
sustainable energy systems
Chalmers, Industri- och materialvetenskap, Design and Human Factors
Supporting diverse roles for people in smart energy systems
Energy Research and Social Science,; Vol. 53(2019)p. 98-109
Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift
Design for alternative ways of doing – explorations in the context of thermal comfort
Journal of Design Research,; Vol. 15(2017)p. 153-173
Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift
What a designer can change: a proposal for a categorisation of artefact-related aspects
Proceedings of DRS 2016, Design Research Society 50th Anniversary Conference. Brighton, UK, 27–30 June 2016,; (2016)
Paper i proceeding
Pleasurable Ways of Staying Warm – A Pathway towards Reduced Energy Consumption
Proceedings from the IASDR Conference 2013, Consilience and Innovation in Design, 24-30 August 2013, Tokyo, s. 1783-1794,; (2013)p. 1783-1794
Paper i proceeding
Renström, S., Andersson, S., Jonasson, A., Rahe, U., Merl, K., & Sundgren, M. (2019, accepted by abstract). Limit My Energy Use! An In-Situ Exploration of a Smart Home System Featuring an Adaptive Energy Threshold. Paper accepted for presentation at the 19th Conference of the European Roundtable on Sustainable Consumption and Production (ERSCP): Circular Europe for Sustainability – Design, Production and Consumption. Barcelona, Spain.
Research study participants considered a variety of roles in energy systems based on three different mindsets – held both by individuals and energy companies – about what roles people should and could play in energy systems.
- In Reception, people are not expected to be interested in anything other than receiving services from the energy system, such as heating. For instance, people are not expected to be interested in the source of energy.
- In Interplay, people are expected to optimise energy services for individual preferences, for example using energy feedback to lower costs.
- In Balance, individual preferences are expected to be matched by what is preferable from an energy system perspective. Balance was not mainstream but nevertheless seemed like the most promising mindset to mitigate climate change.
Evaluations of prototypes designed in line with Balance showed that it is possible to challenge Reception and Interplay through product and services that:
- encourage people to make compromises and ask for their contribution to the energy system,
- make people feel like active participants in the energy system (instead of discouraging active participation through automation), and
- make it possible to influence energy-related decisions made by energy companies or local authorities.
However, to not only challengebut also changea mindset, new products and services need to be followed by infrastructure, business models, and regulation in line with the upcoming mindset.
HSB living lab
Doktorsavhandlingar vid Chalmers tekniska högskola. Ny serie: 4596
Chalmers tekniska högskola
Virtual Development Laboratory (VDL), Chalmers Tvärgata 4 - 6
Opponent: Annelise de Jong, IVL Environmental Science Research Institute, in Stockholm, Sweden