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