Persuading consumers to reduce their consumption of electricity in the home
Smeaton AF., Doherty AR.
Previous work has identified that providing real time feedback or interventions to consumers can persuade consumers to change behaviour and reduce domestic electricity consumption. However, little work has investigated what exactly those feedback mechanisms should be. Most past work is based on an in-home display unit, possibly complemented by lower tariffs and delayed use of non-essential home appliances such as washing machines. In this paper we focus on four methods for real time feedback on domestic energy use, developed to gauge the impact on energy consumption in homes. Their feasibility had been tested using an experimental setup of 24 households collecting minute-by-minute electricity consumption data readings over a period of 18 months. Initial results are mixed, and point to the difficulties of sustaining a reduction in energy consumption, i.e. persuading consumers to change their behaviour. Some of the methods we used exploit small group social dynamics whereby people want to conform to social norms within groups they identify with. It may be that a variety of feedback mechanisms and interventions are needed in order to sustain user interest. © 2013 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.