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Keeping energy visible? Exploring how householders interact with feedback from smart energy monitors in the longer term

  • Hargreaves, Tom
  • Nye, Michael
  • Burgess, Jacquelin
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    This paper reports on how, over a 12-month period, UK householders interacted with feedback on their domestic electricity consumption in a field trial of real time displays or smart energy monitors. Drawing on the findings of 11 follow-up qualitative interviews with householders involved in a ‘Visible Energy Trial’, the paper suggests that: (i) over time, smart energy monitors gradually become ‘backgrounded’ within normal household routines and practices; (ii) the monitors do increase householders’ knowledge of and confidence about the amount of electricity they consume; (iii) but, beyond a certain level and for a wide variety of reasons, the monitors do not necessarily encourage or motivate householders to reduce their levels of consumption; and (iv) once equipped with new knowledge and expertise about their levels of electricity consumption, household practices may become harder to change as householders realise the limits to their energy saving potential and become frustrated by the absence of wider policy and market support. The paper concludes by reflecting on the policy and research implications of these findings in relation to future transition pathways to a low-carbon economy.

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    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301421512002327
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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Energy Policy.

    Volume (Year): 52 (2013)
    Issue (Month): C ()
    Pages: 126-134

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:52:y:2013:i:c:p:126-134
    DOI: 10.1016/j.enpol.2012.03.027
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/enpol

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    1. Shove, Elizabeth, 1998. "Gaps, barriers and conceptual chasms: theories of technology transfer and energy in buildings," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 26(15), pages 1105-1112, December.
    2. Michael Nye & Lorraine Whitmarsh & Timothy Foxon, 2010. "Sociopsychological Perspectives on the Active Roles of Domestic Actors in Transition to a Lower Carbon Electricity Economy," Environment and Planning A, SAGE Publishing, vol. 42(3), pages 697-714, March.
    3. Elizabeth Shove, 2010. "Beyond the ABC: climate change policy and theories of social change," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 42(6), pages 1273-1285, June.
    4. Burgess, Jacquelin & Nye, Michael, 2008. "Re-materialising energy use through transparent monitoring systems," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(12), pages 4454-4459, December.
    5. van Houwelingen, Jeannet H & van Raaij, W Fred, 1989. " The Effect of Goal-Setting and Daily Electronic Feedback on In-home Energy Use," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 16(1), pages 98-105, June.
    6. ., 1998. "Technological Change," Chapters, in: The Elgar Companion to Classical Economics, chapter 127 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    7. Hargreaves, Tom & Nye, Michael & Burgess, Jacquelin, 2010. "Making energy visible: A qualitative field study of how householders interact with feedback from smart energy monitors," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(10), pages 6111-6119, October.
    8. Elizabeth Shove, 2010. "Beyond the ABC: Climate Change Policy and Theories of Social Change," Environment and Planning A, SAGE Publishing, vol. 42(6), pages 1273-1285, June.
    9. Stephenson, Janet & Barton, Barry & Carrington, Gerry & Gnoth, Daniel & Lawson, Rob & Thorsnes, Paul, 2010. "Energy cultures: A framework for understanding energy behaviours," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(10), pages 6120-6129, October.
    10. Mulugetta, Yacob & Jackson, Tim & van der Horst, Dan, 2010. "Carbon reduction at community scale," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(12), pages 7541-7545, December.
    11. Faruqui, Ahmad & Sergici, Sanem & Sharif, Ahmed, 2010. "The impact of informational feedback on energy consumption—A survey of the experimental evidence," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 35(4), pages 1598-1608.
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