Posted: March 24, 2011 By: Comments: 0


At the start of my research on technologies for sustainable consumption of energy, I focused on opportunities that emerge following the installation of smart meters. Given that very few smart meters had been installed at the time, we created a set of functional mock-up electricity ‘smart meters’ using off-the-shelf mains electricity monitors and small form-factor computers. These monitors took electricity meter readings every few seconds and relayed the data to our repository, from which we could provide personalised feedbacks to the homes being monitored.

In our Electric20 trial we monitored just over 20 homes, and provided feedback via a detailed web-site, daily SMS messages and tweets, and via a portable display. Over the 6 months that these technologies were provided to the homes we carried out a number of interviews to track the households’ experiences and any resulting changes in energy consumption. We have since built on our own experience of monitoring electricity in homes, and the kit produced, in both the DESIMAX and C-tech projects.

We wrote a short position paper for a MobileHCI 2011 workshop, arguing that energy feedback might have unpredictable consequences for social order in the home:

  • B. Bedwell, J. Colley, and J. Fischer, “Disrupting social order by exposing personal accountability for energy consumption,” in Internet of Things marries Social Media workshop at Mobile HCI 2011, 2011.
        abstract = {A key component of the future Internet of Things - energy monitoring infrastructures - have the potential to disrupt established social order in the home, workplace and public space by reintroducing energy as a contentious resource where it has become considered a right. We suggest that this disruption has both positive and negative implications and that it is vital that we understand these before designing energy monitoring technologies.},
        author = {Bedwell, Ben and Colley, James and Fischer, Joel},
        booktitle = {Internet of Things marries Social Media workshop at Mobile HCI 2011},
        citeulike-article-id = {9339973},
        month = aug,
        posted-at = {2011-05-26 11:45:42},
        priority = {2},
        title = {Disrupting social order by exposing personal accountability for energy consumption},
        year = {2011}
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