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Watts your usage? A field study of householders' literacy for residential electricity data

Herrmann, MR; Brumby, DP; Oreszczyn, T; (2017) Watts your usage? A field study of householders' literacy for residential electricity data. Energy Efficiency 10.1007/s12053-017-9555-y. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

Smart metering studies typically focus on quantifying behavior change. However, little is known about how users understand energy information and analyze and interpret feedback from energy data visualizations. To investigate this, we gave 13 participants from nine UK households an electricity power clamp meter. Prior to installing and using the device, we conducted interviews with participants to gauge their understanding of their home electricity consumption and found that participants varied considerably from limited to substantial energy literacy. Two weeks after the clamp meter had been installed, we conducted a contextual inquiry in which we asked participants to explain the web-based time series visualization of their recorded electricity data. We found that the visualization proved unfit: participants relied on memories and suggested likely routines, while widely being unable to reliably identify specific events in the data visualization. In follow-up interviews 3 months later, we found that participants’ understanding of their home electricity consumption had hardly changed. Finally, we invited participants to generate ideas how smart electricity feedback could be optimized. They named different forms of disaggregation, higher temporal resolution, and interactivity as design requirements. In summary, these results suggest that people find home energy data very difficult to understand and link to everyday actions and behaviors.

Type: Article
Title: Watts your usage? A field study of householders' literacy for residential electricity data
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1007/s12053-017-9555-y
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12053-017-9555-y
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author(s) 2017. Open Access: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
Keywords: Electricity feedback, Behavior change, Energy literacy, Data visualization, Disaggregation
UCL classification: UCL > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Psychology and Language Sciences (Division of) > UCL Interaction Centre
UCL > School of BEAMS
UCL > School of BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1573465
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