Home, Habits and Energy Consumption

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This paper presents findings from a qualitative study of people's everyday interactions with energy-consuming products and systems in the home. Initial results from a large online survey are also considered. This research focuses not only on "conservation behavior" but importantly investigates interactions with technology that may be characterized as "normal consumption" or "over-consumption." A novel vocabulary for analyzing and designing energy-conserving interactions is proposed based on our findings, including: cutting, trimming, switching, upgrading, and shifting. Using the proposed vocabulary, and informed by theoretical developments from various literatures, this paper demonstrates ways in which everyday interactions with technology in the home are performed without conscious consideration of energy consumption but rather are unconscious, habitual, and irrational. Implications for the design of energy-conserving interactions with technology and broader challenges for HCI research are proposed.

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Home, Habits and Energy Consumption

  1. 1. Home, Habits, and EnergyExamining domestic interactions andenergy consumptionJames Pierce | HCII, CMU; CSL, PARCDiane Schiano | Yahoo!; CSL, PARCEric Paulos | HCII, CMU Living Environments Lab
  2. 2. What are the relationships among: everyday technologies, interactions, and energy consumption? -and-What are and how can we design “sustainable interactions” in the home?
  3. 3. We study “normal”, mundane interactions in the home.1 (rather than assuming people engage in “energy conservation”).
  4. 4. We study “normal”, mundane interactions in the home.1 (rather than assuming people engage in “energy conservation”). We find that habitual routines dominate.2 People are resistant to consciously altering routines.
  5. 5. We study “normal”, mundane interactions in the home.1 (rather than assuming people engage in “energy conservation”). We find that habitual routines dominate.2 People are resistant to consciously altering routines. Appliances and devices structure interactions and practices.3 “Inform & motivate” approaches are limited, if not misguided.
  6. 6. OverviewBackground / prior workStudy and methodsFindingsFramework for designing energy-conserving interactionsDesign strategiesBroader considerations
  7. 7. Background & Prior Work
  8. 8. Background & Prior Work | Energy consumption research within HCI+ Ai He, H., Greenberg, S., & Huang, E. One Size Does Not Fit All: Applying the Transtheoretical Model to Energy Feedback Technology Design. CH1 ‘10.+ Chetty, M., Tran, D., & Grinter, R. Getting to green: understanding resource consumption in the home. Ubicomp ’08.+ Chetty, M., Brush, A.J., Meyers, B., & Johns, P. It’s not easy being green: Understanding home computer power management. CHI ’09.+ Dillahunt, T., Mankoff, J., Paulos, E., & Fussell, S. It’s not all about green: energy use in low-income communities. UbiComp’09.+ Froehlich, J., Findlater, L., Landay, J. The Design of Eco-Feedback Technology. CHI ‘10.+ Pierce, J., Odom, W., & Blevis, E. Energy aware dwelling: A critical survey of interaction design for eco- visualizations. OZCHI ’08.+ Strengers, Y. Smart metering demand management programs: challenging the comfort and cleanliness habitus of households. OZCHI ’08.+ Woodruff, A., Hasbrouck, J., & Augustin, S. A bright green perspective on sustainable choices. CHI ‘08.+ Yann, R., Dodge, J., & Metoyer, R. Studying Always-On Electricity Feedback in the Home. CHI ‘10.
  9. 9. Background & Prior Work | Research outside of HCI Strongly informed by 3 areas of research+ Sociology (of consumption)+ Philosophy of technology+ Social psychology
  10. 10. Study & Methods
  11. 11. Study & Methods | Home study overview+ 15 participants; 12 households (e.g., single-family; in-law; studio)+ recruited via craigslist and personal acquaintances (CA, IL, IN)
  12. 12. Study & Methods | Home study [ appliance walk-thru ] [ price info + logs ]Initial home visit [ card-sort ] [ energy bill review]Final home visit
  13. 13. Study & Methods | Home study [ appliance walk-thru ] [ price info + logs ]Initial home visit [ card-sort ] [ energy bill review]Final home visit
  14. 14. Study & Methods | Home study [ appliance walk-thru ] [ price info + logs ] Initial home visit We were studying “appliance use” not “energy conservation” [ card-sort ] [ energy bill review]Final home visit
  15. 15. Findings
  16. 16. Findings | Lack of Indifference Energy interest in energy costs>>participants were uninterested in and unmotivated by the energy info we provided
  17. 17. “I didn’t pay much attention to the prices, because I have to pay themanyway. ... I have to use them anyway ... to keep my life to a certain levelof convenience.” (P7)“I know I’m not gonna change anyway, so I don’t really wanna know.” (P13)
  18. 18. Findings | Lack of interest in energy costs (Perceived) Low cost as disincentive>>low-cost can be a disincentive for conservation
  19. 19. “Oh, good, it only costs a few cents to use my computer, so I don’t have toworry about that.” (P1)
  20. 20. Findings | Unconsidered Options>>participants had not considered many ways of “conserving” electricity
  21. 21. Findings | Unconsidered Options+ clothes washer and dryer (e.g., reducing temperature)+ dishwasher (e.g., using air dry setting)+ hot water (e.g., lower setting when away)+ refrigerator/freezer (e.g., reducing temperature setting)+ cooking appliances (e.g., using toaster oven instead of oven)+ computers, televisions and other electronics (e.g., completely powering off)
  22. 22. Findings | Lack of interest in energy costs Failed conservation attempts>>changing habits (how we cook, clean, entertain, etc.) is difficult, even if those habits are expensive
  23. 23. “After I found out my bill doubled, I try to use the heater less. But thenI couldn’t stand the cold. And then I was using the space heater forlong hours again. ...sometimes I’m too lazy to put on a jacket. And it’sjust easier to turn on a switch then go in the room, open the closet,and put on a jacket.”
  24. 24. Findings | “Unmotivated” habitual conservation>>motivation is not a necessary condition for conservation
  25. 25. “We make enough money that we don’t need to worry aboutconserving energy.” (~$400 energy bills; 3-person family)“We’re constantly turning lights on and off ... Because we think it savesenergy.” (P9)
  26. 26. Findings | The structuring of interfaces>>available interface options help structure “normal” and “abnormal” interactions and practices
  27. 27. “I guess, if they started making washing machines with only that option,because everything was alright with cold, then I’d wash on cold… Theymust include those there for a reason… They *must* be giving you theseoptions for a reason. Now, I suppose if I bought a washing that only had acold cycle on it, then that’s what I’d do.” (P14)
  28. 28. Findings | Inflexibility>>changing individual attitudes regarding consumption is no simple matter
  29. 29. Findings | Inflexibility“I need them [various appliances and devices]. And I desperatelyneed them throughout the day for entertainment and for food andfor keeping cool and stuff. And so they’re not that flexible. I need‘em. I need ‘em to be on. I want ‘em to be on all day. And I need‘em when I need ‘em.” (P8)
  30. 30. Findings | Summary1. Everyday consumption is often not guided by conscious, rationally motivated thought.2. Direct and explicit motivation may be extremely limited in altering routine practices.3. Our (designed) material environments, including devices and appliances, give structure to everyday practices and energy consumption.
  31. 31. What types of “energy-conserving” interactions can we design for?
  32. 32. A Vocabulary of Energy-Conserving Interactions
  33. 33. Findings | A Vocabulary of Energy-Conserving InteractionsA set of terms describing types of energy-conservinginteractions to design for
  34. 34. Findings | A Vocabulary of Energy-Conserving Interactions+ Cutting+ Trimming+ Switching+ Upgrading+ Shifting
  35. 35. Findings | A Vocabulary of Energy-Conserving Interactions+ Cutting+ Trimming+ Switching+ Upgrading+ Shifting May seem obvious, yet they are rarely designed for explicitly.
  36. 36. Findings | A Vocabulary of Energy-Conserving Interactions+ Cutting | powering off or putting in an extremely low-power state+ Trimming+ Switching+ Upgrading+ Shifting
  37. 37. Findings | A Vocabulary of Energy-Conserving Interactions+ Cutting | powering off or putting in an extremely low-power state+ Trimming+ Switching+ Upgrading+ Shifting OFF
  38. 38. Findings | A Vocabulary of Energy-Conserving Interactions+ Cutting | powering off or putting in an extremely low-power state+ Trimming+ Switching+ Upgrading+ Shifting OFF
  39. 39. Findings | A Vocabulary of Energy-Conserving Interactions+ Cutting | powering off or putting in an extremely low-power state+ Trimming+ Switching+ Upgrading+ Shifting ON
  40. 40. Findings | A Vocabulary of Energy-Conserving Interactions+ Cutting | powering off or putting in an extremely low-power state+ Trimming | using a “lower” setting+ Switching+ Upgrading+ Shifting
  41. 41. Findings | A Vocabulary of Energy-Conserving Interactions+ Cutting | powering off or putting in an extremely low-power state+ Trimming | using a “lower” setting+ Switching+ Upgrading+ Shifting
  42. 42. Findings | A Vocabulary of Energy-Conserving Interactions+ Cutting | powering off or putting in an extremely low-power state+ Trimming | using a “lower” setting+ Switching+ Upgrading+ Shifting
  43. 43. Findings | A Vocabulary of Energy-Conserving Interactions+ Cutting | powering off or putting in an extremely low-power state+ Trimming | using a “lower” setting+ Switching+ Upgrading+ Shifting
  44. 44. Findings | A Vocabulary of Energy-Conserving Interactions+ Cutting | powering off or putting in an extremely low-power state+ Trimming | using a “lower” setting+ Switching+ Upgrading+ Shifting
  45. 45. Findings | A Vocabulary of Energy-Conserving Interactions+ Cutting | powering off or putting in an extremely low-power state+ Trimming | using a “lower” setting+ Switching | using a more energy-efficient alternative product+ Upgrading+ Shifting
  46. 46. Findings | A Vocabulary of Energy-Conserving Interactions+ Cutting | powering off or putting in an extremely low-power state+ Trimming | using a “lower” setting+ Switching | using a more energy-efficient alternative product+ Upgrading+ Shifting
  47. 47. Findings | A Vocabulary of Energy-Conserving Interactions+ Cutting | powering off or putting in an extremely low-power state+ Trimming | using a “lower” setting+ Switching | using a more energy-efficient alternative product+ Upgrading+ Shifting
  48. 48. Findings | A Vocabulary of Energy-Conserving Interactions+ Cutting | powering off or putting in an extremely low-power state+ Trimming | using a “lower” setting+ Switching | using a more energy-efficient alternative product+ Upgrading+ Shifting
  49. 49. Findings | A Vocabulary of Energy-Conserving Interactions+ Cutting | powering off or putting in an extremely low-power state+ Trimming | using a “lower” setting+ Switching | using a more energy-efficient alternative product+ Upgrading | acquiring a more energy-efficient replacement product+ Shifting
  50. 50. Findings | A Vocabulary of Energy-Conserving Interactions+ Cutting | powering off or putting in an extremely low-power state+ Trimming | using a “lower” setting+ Switching | using a more energy-efficient alternative product+ Upgrading | acquiring a more energy-efficient replacement product+ Shifting
  51. 51. Findings | A Vocabulary of Energy-Conserving Interactions+ Cutting | powering off or putting in an extremely low-power state+ Trimming | using a “lower” setting+ Switching | using a more energy-efficient alternative product+ Upgrading | acquiring a more energy-efficient replacement product+ Shifting
  52. 52. Findings | A Vocabulary of Energy-Conserving Interactions+ Cutting | powering off or putting in an extremely low-power state+ Trimming | using a “lower” setting+ Switching | using a more energy-efficient alternative product+ Upgrading | acquiring a more energy-efficient replacement product+ Shifting
  53. 53. Findings | A Vocabulary of Energy-Conserving Interactions+ Cutting | powering off or putting in an extremely low-power state+ Trimming | using a “lower” setting+ Switching | using a more energy-efficient alternative product+ Upgrading | acquiring a more energy-efficient replacement product+ Shifting | shifting use to a different time or place
  54. 54. Findings | A Vocabulary of Energy-Conserving Interactions+ Cutting | powering off or putting in an extremely low-power state+ Trimming | using a “lower” setting+ Switching | using a more energy-efficient alternative product+ Upgrading | acquiring a more energy-efficient replacement product+ Shifting | shifting use to a different time or place
  55. 55. Findings | A Vocabulary of Energy-Conserving Interactions+ Cutting | powering off or putting in an extremely low-power state+ Trimming | using a “lower” setting+ Switching | using a more energy-efficient alternative product+ Upgrading | acquiring a more energy-efficient replacement product+ Shifting | shifting use to a different time or place 11 12 1 10 2 9 3 8 4 7 6 5
  56. 56. Findings | A Vocabulary of Energy-Conserving Interactions+ Cutting | powering off or putting in an extremely low-power state+ Trimming | using a “lower” setting+ Switching | using a more energy-efficient alternative product+ Upgrading | acquiring a more energy-efficient replacement product+ Shifting | shifting use to a different time or place 11 12 1 10 2 9 3 8 4 7 6 5
  57. 57. Findings | A Framework for Designing Energy-Conserving Interactions+ Cutting | powering off or putting in an extremely low-power state+ Trimming | using a “lower” setting+ Switching | using a more energy-efficient alternative product+ Upgrading | acquiring a more energy-efficient replacement product+ Shifting | shifting use to a different time or place
  58. 58. Design strategies
  59. 59. Design strategies | Material scripts Scripts: implicit user’s manual. Imperatives “uttered (silently and continuously) by...mechanisms” (Latour, 2000, p. 157; citing Akrich, 1992)Akrich, M. (1992). The de-scription of technical objects, in Bijker,WE. & Law, J. (Eds), ShapingTechnology/Building Society. MIT Press.Latour, B. (2000). Where are the missing masses? The sociology of a few mundane artefacts.In Bijker, W. E. & Law J. (Eds), Shaping Technology/Building Society: Studies in SociotechnicalChange. MIT Press.
  60. 60. Design strategies | Material scripts Fridge door scripted for trimming.
  61. 61. Design strategies | Material scripts Close me! Don’t let the cold out!
  62. 62. Design strategies | Material scripts Wireless router not scripted for cutting.
  63. 63. Design strategies | Material scripts It’s okay to leave me plugged in. Routinely unplugging me is deviant !!!
  64. 64. Design strategies | Material scripts Instead of trying to convince people to use less energy, we can “script” things for energy-conserving interactions. (cutting, trimming, switching, upgrading, shifting)
  65. 65. Design strategies+ Relabeling “normal”+ Foregrounding efficiency options+ Defaulting+ 1-click cutting
  66. 66. Design strategies: Relabeling “normal” Energy Normal Efficient Mode (e.g., trimming dishwasher by using air dry)
  67. 67. Design strategies: Relabeling “normal” Energy Normal Efficient Mode Normal
  68. 68. Design strategies: Relabeling “normal” Energy Normal Efficient Mode High Normal Energy Mode
  69. 69. Design strategies: Relabeling “normal” High Normal Energy Mode
  70. 70. Design strategies: Relabeling “normal” High Low
  71. 71. Design strategies: Relabeling “normal” High Low
  72. 72. Design strategies: Foregrounding efficiency options Vacation Normal Mode (e.g., cutting or trimming hot water heater)
  73. 73. Design strategies: Defaulting Cold Warm Hot Start (e.g., trimming automatic clothes washer)
  74. 74. Design strategies: 1-click cutting ON / OFF (e.g., cutting televisions, PCs, entire homes)
  75. 75. Broader Considerations
  76. 76. “Energy-conserving” does not imply “sustainable”
  77. 77. “The replacement of one technology with a more efficient onemay reduce the energy input but not the total amount of energydemanded…...behaviour and household technology are mutually implicated inthe demand for [energy].” (Wilhite, 2007 p. 29)Wilhite, H. (2007). “Will efficient technologies save the world ? A call for new thinking on the waysthat end-use technologies affect energy using practices.” In Proc. ECEEE 2007 Summer Study.
  78. 78. How is an energy monitor implicated in the demand for energy?
  79. 79. A “sustainable” energy monitoring system for the automatic clothes dryer implies a strong demand for the automatic clothes dryer. 50 watts
  80. 80. A “sustainable” energy monitoring system for the automatic clothes dryer helps negates its being displaced by the clothesline. 50 watts
  81. 81. A “sustainable” power sensing infrastructure helps sustain the status quo (ever-increasing) demand for energy. 0.4537 kWON
  82. 82. Are hi-tech (digital, interactive) solutions always most appropriate (or even counterproductive)?
  83. 83. Instead of “energy conservation”... “minimum feasible power” (Illich, 1974) as a design principle.Illich, I. (1974). Energy and Equity. Marion Boyars.
  84. 84. relinquishing - permanently powering off a device elimination - designing something out of existence (Fry, 2009)Fry, T. (2009). Design futuring. Berg.
  85. 85. Instead of assuming the “smart energy home” will have many energy-consuming devices... ON
  86. 86. ON How might we design to displace unsustainable objects, interactions and practices? How might we radically re-design “home” as sustainable?

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