Home Energy Monitors May Not Sustain Savings Over Time

Researchers from Delft University of Technology claim that home energy management systems (HEMS), e.g., energy monitors, initial electricity savings could not be sustained. HEMS are intermediary products that can visualize, manage, and/or monitor the energy use of other products or whole households.

HEMS increasingly receive attention for their role in energy conservation in households. A literature review and a case study examine the mid-term effectiveness (more than four months) of HEMS.

The case study presents the results of a 15-month pilot with a domestic energy monitor in the Netherlands. It explores the extent to which participants manage to sustain their initial electricity savings over time, with a special focus on the development of habitual energy-saving behaviour. The results show that the initial savings in electricity consumption of 7.8 percent after 4 months could not be sustained in the medium- to long-term.

A second finding is that certain groups of people seem more receptive to energy-saving interventions than others. These participants quickly develop new habits and exhibit larger savings than other participants. Obviously, a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach for home energy monitors cannot be justified. For HEMS to be effective, a deeper understanding is needed that embraces social science, contextual factors, usability, and interaction design research.

The paper, “Home Energy Monitors: Impact Over The Medium-Term” was published in the September edition of the Building Research and Information journal.

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