In the face of growing popularity of eco-feedback innovations, recent studies draw attention to the relevance of the human factor for a more effective design of eco-feedback. The paper "Automating Behavior? An Experimental Living Lab Study on the Effect of Smart Home Systems and Traffic Light Feedback on Heating Energy Consumption" explores these challenges more deeply by employing a mixed methods approach. The authors provide in-situ insights from a Living Lab experiment on the effect of smart home systems and traffic light feedback on heating energy consumption in private households. The results from the analysis show that the interventions do not affect heating as expected; neither automated behaviour through high-tech smart home systems nor behaviour-influencing traffic light feedback. Smart home systems do not per se promise a significant reduction of heating energy consumption and a traffic light feedback on indoor air quality does not lead to a reaction of indoor CO2 concentrations - but it may reduce heating energy consumption. Qualitative interviews on heating practices of participants suggest that comfort temperatures, lack of competences and inert heating systems do override expected effects of the feedback interventions.
The authors therefore propose that high-tech smart home systems should carefully consider the handling competences of users. Low-tech feedback products, though, should by design address user experience factors like comfort temperatures more strongly.
The paper by Wuppertal Institute's Johannes Buhl, Marco Hasselkuß, Paul Suski and Holger Berg was published in the Current Journal of Applied Science and Technology, volume 22, issue 4. It is available for free download.