UK's smart meter plans

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dt99jay

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May 12, 2009, 1:42:18 PM5/12/09
to Design and Behaviour
Hey

You may have heard in the news yesterday that the UK's government have
recently released a consultation into their plans for a nationwide
roll-out of smart meters to domestic buildings by 2020. The
government's current position is that all smart meters will have a
visual front-end or "real-time display".

The purpose of the real time display is to give people instantaneous
feedback on how their actions relate to the energy consumption of
their home, and these devices have been shown to save between 5-15% in
UK trials (perhaps more in other countries).

So far there has been little appreciation of the role that great
information and interaction design can have in making these displays
as engaging and persuasive as possible, and consequently saving more
energy through encouraging behaviour change. But as of yesterday, the
government wants to “use this consultation as a means to open up this
debate” about the sort of information displays should show that will
really engage people.

Does anyone know a great interaction designer with an understanding of
how design changes behaviour who might be interested in giving a good
response to this consultation?

Or we could collaboratively knock something up in this forum.

Cheers,

Jamie

dt99jay

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May 12, 2009, 1:43:53 PM5/12/09
to Design and Behaviour
Oops - meant to say I posted a bit more background in a post on my
blog: http://designandbehaviour.rsablogs.org.uk/2009/05/12/calling-interaction-designers/

Dan Lockton

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May 13, 2009, 9:56:48 AM5/13/09
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Thanks Jamie, this sounds like a great opportunity for designers to get involved with helping make this initiative as effective as possible. Your blog post gives a very good background and analysis - and I'll have a read of the DECC letter and consultation documents.

As you say, it could be a great thing for some of us to collaborate on putting together a response.

2009/5/12 dt99jay <dt9...@gmail.com>

Gregor Wolbring

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May 13, 2009, 10:22:39 AM5/13/09
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just one thought.
As we will have an increasing elderly population and we have the UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities....it should be made sure that position of meter and reader output and manipulation of reader are manual and intellectual accessible; visual, spacial and  interaction wise
Cheers
Gregor


Dr. Gregor Wolbring
Assistant Professor
University of Calgary
webpage: http://www.bioethicsanddisability.org/
Ableism and Ability Ethics and Governance blog: http://ableism.wordpress.com
biweekly column The Choice is Yours: http://www.innovationwatch.com/commentary_choiceisyours.htm
Nano Bio Info Cogno Synbio Blog:http://wolbring.wordpress.com/
What Sorts of People blog: http://whatsortsofpeople.wordpress.com/

Simon Thompson

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May 13, 2009, 10:58:23 AM5/13/09
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Is anyone discussing the ability to interrogate the device? To me, what is important is the provision of an API to allow control of the meter and manipulation of data to meet the needs of users. This could resolve many accessibility issues, and allow many more practical uses.

Gregor Wolbring

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May 13, 2009, 11:03:35 AM5/13/09
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Indeed Simon, that would be one line of inquiry I was thinking about.
Does anyone have access to how the device in the trial run looked like?

Cheers
Gregor


dt99jay

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May 13, 2009, 11:26:52 AM5/13/09
to Design and Behaviour
Good point, Simon. There may be more recent information, but the last
work that I know if that took place in this space was the Supplier
Requirements of Smart Metering project led by the Energy Retail
Association. The project looked at local data communications (ie.
between the smart meters and other appliances within the home) rather
than data communications with the energy supplier. It's not the most
fascinating stuff, but there is a wiki maintained during the project
here (http://srsmlocalcomms.wetpaint.com/) and a summary of the final
report here (http://www.energy-retail.org.uk/documents/
LCDGSummary.pdf).

On May 13, 4:03 pm, Gregor Wolbring <gwolb...@ucalgary.ca> wrote:
> Indeed Simon, that would be one line of inquiry I was thinking about.
> Does anyone have access to how the device in the trial run looked like?
>
> Cheers
> Gregor
>
>
>
> Simon Thompson wrote:
> > Is anyone discussing the ability to interrogate the device? To me,
> > what is important is the provision of an API to allow control of the
> > meter and manipulation of data to meet the needs of users. This could
> > resolve many accessibility issues, and allow many more practical uses.
>
> >>     2009/5/12 dt99jay <dt99...@gmail.com <mailto:dt99...@gmail.com>>
> >>         Jamie- Hide quoted text -
>
> - Show quoted text -

James Box

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May 15, 2009, 12:01:22 PM5/15/09
to Design and Behaviour
@Simon – I couldn't agree more. In fact, I'd argue that any device
that calls itself a 'smart' meter and doesn't include a public API is
lying.

I'm thinking of Adam Greenfield's assertion that all public objects
should not only offer APIs but that this should be 'a matter of
explicit government policy.': http://bit.ly/xF08f

James Box

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May 15, 2009, 12:08:33 PM5/15/09
to Design and Behaviour
One other thing...I hope the people at Onzo have a part to play:
http://www.onzo.co.uk/products/

It's certainly on their radar:
http://www.onzo.co.uk/news/post/109/

dt99jay

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Jun 8, 2009, 8:16:51 AM6/8/09
to Design and Behaviour
Sorry for being quiet on this recently. To recap, the UK's Dept of
Energy and Climate Change have opened a consultation on their plans to
roll out smart meters by 2012, but also want to get responses on what
kind of information the display side of a smart meter should
communicate to the consumer. As the consultation says:

"To date we have received only limited input on this question. We want
to use this consultation as a means to open up this debate. We would
welcome input (from consumer groups in particular) on the type of data
that will best incentivise behavioural change (for instance,
information on energy use, money, CO2 etc). Getting the balance right
between providing enough data to enable behavioural change, without
overloading consumers, will be important."

I think the collective knowledge of this group would make an ideal
response. Although there are a few companies (as James says, like
Onzo) that also have expertise in this area, I think we could make a
really useful contribution - particularly to questions 12, 13 and 14:

Q12 Do you agree with the Government's position that a standalone
display should be provided with a smart meter?

Q13 Do you have any comments on what sort of data should be provided
to consumers as a minimum to help them best act to save energy (e.g.
information on energy use, money, CO2 etc)?

Q14 Do you have comments regarding the accessibility of meters/display
units for particular consumers (e.g. vulnerable consumers such as the
disabled, partially sighted/blind)?

The deadline is 3rd August 2009, and I've checked that DECC are happy
to receive responses from informal groups like ours. You can find the
consultation documents are here:
http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/consultations/smart_metering/smart_metering.aspx

If there is still interest in responding to this, I think it would be
great if we

1. Reply to this message with your ideas in response to each of
questions 12, 13 and 14 - please cite evidence if possible

2. I'll then collate the ideas and write them up into a Google
document which we can all make improvements to

3. I'll send it to DECC by late July

I'll include the above ideas (able to be read by disabled people and
access to interface with the meter). What about allowing comparisons
with people in your local area, or daily household targets to try and
match...?

Dan Lockton

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Jun 9, 2009, 9:45:45 AM6/9/09
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Thanks Jamie,

After reading through the consultation documents, I've got a few points / questions about the meters which are maybe better suited to a blog post, but in direct response to the three most relevant consultation questions, here are my thoughts:

(actually, first question only at the moment, others will follow tomorrow I hope...)

Q12 Do you agree with the Government's position that a standalone display should be provided with a smart meter?

Free-standing displays (presumably wirelessly connected to the meter itself, as proposed in [7, p.16]) could be an effective way of bringing the meter 'out of the cupboard', making an information flow visible which was previously hidden. As Donella Meadows put it when comparing electricity meter placements [1, pp. 14-15] this provides a new feedback loop, "delivering information to a place where it wasn’t going before" and thus allowing consumers to modify their behaviour in response.

“An accessible display device connected to the meter” [2, p.8] or “series of modules connected to a meter” [3, p. 28] would be preferable to something where an extra step has to be taken for a consumer to access the data, such as only having a TV or internet interface for the information, but as noted [3, p.31] "flexibility for information to be provided through other formats (for example through the internet, TV) in addition to the provision of a display" via an open API, publicly documented, would be the ideal situation. Interesting 'energy dashboard' TV interfaces have been trialled in projects such as live|work's Low Carb Lane [6], and offer the potential for interactivity and extra information display supported by the digital television platform, but it would be a mistake to rely on this solely (even if simply because it will necessarily interfere with the primary reason that people have a television).

The question suggests that a single display unit would be provided with each meter, presumably with the householder free to position it wherever he or she likes (perhaps a unit with interchangeable provision for a support stand, a magnet to allow positioning on a refrigerator, a sucker for use on a window and hook to allow hanging up on the wall would be ideal - the location of the display could be important, as noted [4, p. 49]) but the ability to connect multiple display units would certainly afford more possibilities for consumer engagement with the information displayed as well as reducing the likelihood of a display unit being mislaid. For example, in shared accommodation where there are multiple residents all of whom are expected to contribute to a communal electricity bill, each person being aware of others' energy use (as in, for example, the Watt Watchers project [5]) could have an important social proof effect among peers.

Open APIs and data standards would permit ranges of aftermarket energy displays to be produced, ranging from simple readouts (or even pager-style alerters) to devices and kits which could allow consumers to perform more complex analysis of their data (along the lines of the user-led innovative uses of the Current Cost, for example [8]) - another route to having multiple displays per household.


[1] Meadows, D. Leverage Points: Places to Intervene in a System. Sustainability Institute, 1999. Available at http://www.sustainabilityinstitute.org/pubs/Leverage_Points.pdf

[2] DECC. Impact Assessment of smart / advanced meters roll out to small and medium businesses, May 2009. Available at http://decc.gov.uk/Media/viewfile.ashx?FilePath=Consultations\Smart%20Metering%20for%20Electricity%20and%20Gas\1_20090508152843_e_@@_smartmeterianondomestic.pdf&filetype=4

[3] DECC. A Consultation on Smart Metering for Electricity and Gas, May 2009. Available at http://decc.gov.uk/Media/viewfile.ashx?FilePath=Consultations\Smart%20Metering%20for%20Electricity%20and%20Gas\1_20090508163551_e_@@_smartmetercondoc.pdf&filetype=4

[4] DECC. Impact Assessment of a GB-wide smart meter roll out for the domestic sector, May 2009. Available at http://decc.gov.uk/Media/viewfile.ashx?FilePath=Consultations\Smart%20Metering%20for%20Electricity%20and%20Gas\1_20090508152831_e_@@_smartmeteriadomestic.pdf&filetype=4

[5] Fischer, J. and Kestner, J. 'Watt Watchers', 2008. Available at http://jordanfischer.com/pdfs/Fischer_Kestner_4625-WattWatchers.pdf

[6] DOTT / live|work studio. 'Low Carb Lane', 2007. Available at http://www.dott07.com/go/lowcarblane

[7] BERR. Impact Assessment of Smart Metering Roll Out for Domestic Consumers and for Small Businesses, April 2008. Available at http://www.berr.gov.uk/files/file45794.pdf

 
[8] O'Leary, N. and Reynolds, R. 'Current Cost: Observations and Thoughts from Interested Hackers'. Presentation at OpenTech 2008, London. July 2008. Available at http://rooreynolds.com/2008/07/06/current-cost-presentation-at-open-tech-2008/

Cheers
Dan

______________________________________________________________________________
Dan Lockton MPhil BSc(Hons) FRSA | Cleaner Electronics Research Group | Brunel Design
Brunel University | London | UB8 3PH | http://danlockton.co.uk | http://designandbehaviour.com
 

Dan Lockton

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Jun 18, 2009, 4:35:50 PM6/18/09
to design-and...@googlegroups.com
Hi everyone,

I've blogged the rest of my response - http://architectures.danlockton.co.uk/2009/06/18/smart-meters-some-thoughts-from-a-design-point-of-view/ - I fear it's rather too long to be directly useful for Jamie's synthesis so I'll try and summarise it in due course!


Dan

______________________________________________________________________________
Dan Lockton MPhil BSc(Hons) FRSA | Cleaner Electronics Research Group | Brunel Design
Brunel University | London | UB8 3PH | http://danlockton.co.uk | http://designandbehaviour.com




2009/6/9 Dan Lockton <danlo...@gmail.com>

Dan Lockton

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Jun 18, 2009, 5:22:57 PM6/18/09
to Design and Behaviour
Oops, that link should be
http://architectures.danlockton.co.uk/2009/06/18/smart-meters-some-thoughts-from-a-design-point-of-view/
without a trailing '-' ! Sorry...

On Jun 18, 9:35 pm, Dan Lockton <danlock...@gmail.com> wrote:
> Hi everyone,
>
> I've blogged the rest of my response -http://architectures.danlockton.co.uk/2009/06/18/smart-meters-some-th...
> I fear it's rather too long to be directly useful for Jamie's
> synthesis so
> I'll try and summarise it in due course!
>
> Dan
>
> ______________________________________________________________________________
>  Dan Lockton MPhil BSc(Hons) FRSA | Cleaner Electronics Research Group |
> Brunel Design
> Brunel University | London | UB8 3PH |http://danlockton.co.uk|http://designandbehaviour.com
>
> 2009/6/9 Dan Lockton <danlock...@gmail.com>
>
> > Thanks Jamie,
>
> > After reading through the consultation documents, I've got a few points /
> > questions about the meters which are maybe better suited to a blog post, but
> > in direct response to the three most relevant consultation questions, here
> > are my thoughts:
>
> > (actually, first question only at the moment, others will follow tomorrow I
> > hope...)
>
> >> *Q12 Do you agree with the Government's position that a standalone
> >> display should be provided with a smart meter? *
>
> >> Free-standing displays (presumably wirelessly connected to the meter
> >> itself, as proposed in [7, p.16]) could be an effective way of bringing the
> >> meter 'out of the cupboard', making an information flow visible which was
> >> previously hidden. As Donella Meadows put it when comparing electricity
> >> meter placements [1, pp. 14-15] this provides a new feedback loop,
> >> "delivering information to a place where it wasn’t going before" and thus
> >> allowing consumers to modify their behaviour in response.
>
> >> “An accessible display device connected to the meter” [2, p.8] or “series
> >> of modules connected to a meter” [3, p. 28] would be preferable to something
> >> where an extra step has to be taken for a consumer to access the data, such
> >> as *only* having a TV or internet interface for the information, but as
> >> [1] Meadows, D. *Leverage Points: Places to Intervene in a System*.
> >> Sustainability Institute, 1999. Available at
> >>http://www.sustainabilityinstitute.org/pubs/Leverage_Points.pdf
>
> >> [2] DECC. *Impact Assessment of smart / advanced meters roll out to small
> >> and medium businesses*, May 2009. Available at
> >>http://decc.gov.uk/Media/viewfile.ashx?FilePath=Consultations
> >> \Smart%20Metering%20for%20Electricity%20and%20Gas\1_20090508152843_e_@
> >> @_smartmeterianondomestic.pdf&filetype=4
>
> >> [3] DECC. *A Consultation on Smart Metering for Electricity and Gas*, May
> >> \Smart%20Metering%20for%20Electricity%20and%20Gas\1_20090508163551_e_@
> >> @_smartmetercondoc.pdf&filetype=4
>
> >> [4] DECC.* Impact Assessment of a GB-wide smart meter roll out for the
> >> domestic sector*, May 2009. Available at
> >>http://decc.gov.uk/Media/viewfile.ashx?FilePath=Consultations
> >> \Smart%20Metering%20for%20Electricity%20and%20Gas\1_20090508152831_e_@
> >> @_smartmeteriadomestic.pdf&filetype=4
>
> >> [5] Fischer, J. and Kestner, J. 'Watt Watchers', 2008. Available at
> >>http://jordanfischer.com/pdfs/Fischer_Kestner_4625-WattWatchers.pdf
>
> >> [6] DOTT / live|work studio. 'Low Carb Lane', 2007. Available at
> >>http://www.dott07.com/go/lowcarblane
>
> >> [7] BERR. *Impact Assessment of Smart Metering Roll Out for Domestic
> >> Consumers and for Small Businesses*, April 2008. Available at
> >>http://www.berr.gov.uk/files/file45794.pdf
>
> >> [8] O'Leary, N. and Reynolds, R. 'Current Cost: Observations and Thoughts
> >> from Interested Hackers'. Presentation at OpenTech 2008, London. July 2008.
> >> Available at
> >>http://rooreynolds.com/2008/07/06/current-cost-presentation-at-open-t...

nic combe

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Jun 24, 2009, 9:45:18 AM6/24/09
to Design and Behaviour
Hi everyone,

Personally my interests lie in response to point 14.

Currently I am using the exclusion calculator (mentioned in Dan's
facebook post) developed at Cambridge to assess heating controls with
the aim of making them more inclusive and would be interested in any
possible collaboration here. The exclusion calculator uses data which
implies users would be unable to use the product or system being
assessed. It does not consider users that would perhaps find it
difficult, for example a user who struggled with numbers. The
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report
Literacy in the Information Age: A Final Report of the International
Adult Literacy Survey states, “approximately 20% of the adult UK
population has difficulties with basic reading and maths”. I would
argue that these some of these people would also be excluded on top of
the figure from the exclusion calculator and any design solution
should consider this.

There is also a compelling business arguement for designing any
product inclusively. In the UK by 2020 it is estimated 50% of the
adult UK population will be over 50 years old and this trend will
continue for the foreseeable future (Coleman 2003). This ageing
population is echoed in other developed countries throughout the
world, despite this little is being designed with this growing market
in mind. Inclusive design is not solely design for disabled people and
the elderly but design for the “widest possible range of users”. It
should be made clear ing that inclusive design is user centric and
should improve the usability of products for everyone (Coleman et al.
2003, Keates & Clarkson 2003).

With regard to Gregor's point guidance on appropriate heights and
placements of meters is available in BS8300:2009 Design of buildings
and their approaches to meet the needs of disabled people. Meters
positioned on the wall should be within the range of 1200-1400mm while
controls requiring precise hand movement are recommended to be between
750mm-1000mm from the floor to allow ease of use from both a standing
and seated position (British Standards Institute 2009). Controls
should also be 350mm from the corner of the room to ensure everyone is
able to reach them.

Sorry it is a bit long, but hopefully it is useful!

Regards,
Nic



References:
British Standards Institute 2009, BS8300:2009 Design of buildings and
their approaches to meet the needs of disabled people - Code of
Practice, British Standards Institute, Chiswick, UK.
Coleman, R. 2003, "Living Longer" in Inclusive Design: Design for the
Whole Population, eds. J. Clarkson, R. Coleman, S. Keates & C. Lebbon,
1st edn, Springer, London.
Coleman, R., Lebbon, C., Clarkson, J. & Keates, S. 2003,
"Introduction" in Inclusive Design: Design for the Whole Population,
eds. J. Clarkson, R. Coleman, S. Keates & C. Lebbon, 1st edn,
Springer, London.
Keates, S. & Clarkson, J. 2003, Countering Design Exclusion: An
Introduction to Inclusive Design, Springer, London.
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) 2000,
Literacy in the Information Age: Final Report of the International
Adult Literacy Survey, Statistics Canada, Canada.


On Jun 18, 10:22 pm, Dan Lockton <danlock...@gmail.com> wrote:
> Oops, that link should behttp://architectures.danlockton.co.uk/2009/06/18/smart-meters-some-th...
> without a trailing '-' ! Sorry...
>
> On Jun 18, 9:35 pm, Dan Lockton <danlock...@gmail.com> wrote:
>
>
>
> > Hi everyone,
>
> > I've blogged the rest of my response -http://architectures.danlockton.co.uk/2009/06/18/smart-meters-some-th...
> > I fear it's rather too long to be directly useful for Jamie's
> > synthesis so
> > I'll try and summarise it in due course!
>
> > Dan
>
> > ___________________________________________________________________________­___
> > > ___________________________________________________________________________­___
> > >  Dan Lockton MPhil BSc(Hons) FRSA | Cleaner Electronics Research Group |
> > > Brunel Design
> > > Brunel University | London | UB8 3PH |http://danlockton.co.uk|
> > >http://designandbehaviour.com- Hide quoted text -
Message has been deleted

Jamie

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Jul 7, 2009, 8:56:35 AM7/7/09
to Design and Behaviour
* re-posted, as the formatting messed up the first time…

Sorry this took me so long to get down. I found that my problem was
that I knew
how I’d go about designing a good energy display, but there’s a
difference between
that and what the government should be setting as minimum standards –
because
the evidence is still developing.

- starts -

= General Comments =

In general there is a lot of thinking still to be done by Government
in this area. Displays could lead to significant behaviour change, but
only if they are popular with people, and if the information they
communicate is clearly and effectively designed. This thinking should
be driven by the specific behaviours that Government wants to
encourage in this area. Which appliances and behaviours should be
targeted?

The knowledge in this area is growing quickly and will continue to
grow. Is there scope for the software that determines how the data is
displayed to be remotely updated as this knowledge develops? This
could be achieved via the GSM communications that the smart meter uses
to communicate with the energy supplier. In this way the latest
knowledge from behaviour science could be rolled out easily, and the
displays would retain a degree of novelty with the users.

Government could encourage innovation in this area by using the CERT
regulations as a test field. If the carbon cost of a real-time display
could vary according to the display’s effectiveness at encouraging
behaviour change, suppliers would be incentivised to keep innovating
in this area, and the growing body of evidence could be used to
improve smart meters displays.

= Q12 Do you agree with the Government's position that a standalone
display should be provided with a smart meter? =

The energy saving due to smart metering is achieved on both the supply
side (by metering data that enables the supplier to manage loads more
effectively) and the demand side (by feedback that enables individuals
to alter their behaviour).i The latter is also provided by real-time
displays (albeit to a lower standard due to measuring inaccuracies)
which therefore provide a useful evidence base.

The most authoritative review of providing this feedback shows that it
enables and encourages people to save between 5 and 15%ii in
electrical energy. This real-time feedback differs from that given via
bills because it is given very soon after the occupant’s actions. This
is essential to encouraging behaviour changeiii, enabling them to
understand the link between their behaviour and their home’s energy
consumption. To provide smart meters without feedback would be to
completely neglect the opportunity of making the crucial demand-side
saving.

The Government’s decision to u-turn on the issue of real-time displays
contained in their own energy white paper of 2007iv was made on the
basis that “a standalone real-time display should be provided with a
smart meter if the full environmental and energy efficiency benefits
are to be generated from a roll out smart metering.”v To renege once
again on the issue of providing feedback would clearly demonstrate
that the Government is more interested in pacifying energy suppliers
than taking action to mitigate climate change.

The displays provided should be standalone (ie. portable). The current
problem with standard electricity and gas meters is not that they do
not give feedback, but that the feedback they give is given in the
wrong place (e.g. in a meter cupboard) and it is given in the wrong
way (e.g. difficult to read digits). The purpose of giving feedback is
to enable and encourage behaviour change, and although one behaviour
is to encourage people to monitor their consumption over a long time
(for which a meter-mounted display might be suitable), many other
behaviours can only be changed if feedback is available at the point
of use (e.g. while using an oven)vi.

For the above reason, giving feedback solely via a television,
computer software, website will not encourage behaviour change
effectively. Although portable feedback could be given via a mobile
phone, this would probably only appeal to a niche market and fail to
engage the large populations required.

Notwithstanding the above, the communication between the smart meter
and the display should be according to an open standard, to allow
interested individuals to develop their own way of using the feedback
data, possibly leading to more innovative ways to encourage behaviour
change.

In general, the knowledge of how the design of energy displays can
most effectively encourage behaviour change is developing rapidly. The
Government’s role should be to ensure that feedback is given in the
right place and in the right way – but to do this by setting minimum
standards rather than prescribing exact details. Smart meters can
communicate via GSM or broadband, which means that as the knowledge of
how displays can be most effectively designed to encourage behaviour
change, the software that the meter uses to display the data could be
remotely updated to create more effective information architecture
(this could also ensure that people remain engaged with the display).

= Q13 Do you have any comments on what sort of data should be provided
to consumers as a minimum to help them best act to save energy (e.g.
information on energy use, money, CO2 etc)? =

Providing feedback is not enough (as the example of standard
electricity meters that provide feedback with tiny digits shows), the
feedback data must be provided in a way which can enable and encourage
energy-saving behaviour change. The main information design options
for energy displays are helpfully characterised by Wood & Newboroughvi
as (i) the selection of motivational factors, (ii) the units of
display, (iii) the methods of display, and (iv) the timescales of the
data.

(i) One effective motivational factor is to provide comparative data.
Three of the most promising of these are to; (a) allow the home-owner
to compare the energy consumption of one appliance with another
appliance, (b) allow comparison of their current energy consumption
with their historical data, or (c) to allow comparison of their energy
consumption with other people’s energy consumption.

(a) Displaying the energy consumption for individual appliances (or at
least the main ones) should be a minimum standard for energy displays.
Home-owner’s knowledge of the relative energy consumption of various
appliances is poor. Various papersvii have recommended that feedback
must show the relative consumption of each appliance, and we strongly
support this view. Other research shows that giving feedback is more
effective when feedback is given on the individual components of a
systemviii. This standard need not be technically difficult to
implement or costly to install; at least two companies in the UK own
technology that allows individual appliances to be identified from
just one point of contact.

(b) Another minimum standard should be the ability to compare current
energy consumption with historical data. evidence

(c) A third possibility is to allow people to compare their energy
consumption with that of others. There is clear evidence that allowing
people to compare themselves to a social norm (e.g. the average energy
consumption in their area) would encourage them to save more energy
(combined with a social congratulatory message to prevent an unwanted
“rebound” effect)ix, however other evidence also suggests that people
might mistrust feedback of this sort because of the traditional
difficulty in measuring energy accurately enoughvi. The accuracy
problems would presumably be resolved with the greater accuracy
provided by smart meters.

Another motivational factor is giving people the ability to use the
display to set goals or targets for reducing energy consumption. This
has been shown to effectively encourage behaviour changex and
reduction in energy consumptionxi, and should be a minimum standard
for the displays.

A third motivational factor considered is the ability to give rewards…

The final motivational factor recommended is the provision of
customised energysaving tips which would be given in response to the
data collected. This would be most effective if the meters were able
to identify the energy consumed by the individual appliances.

(ii) The units of display have been the subject of much discussion,
but little practical evidence. The obvious options are kilowatt hours
(as standard electricity meters), financial cost, or units of CO2. A
possible problem with financial cost is that the small numbers (pence,
or grams of CO2) may discourage and de-motivate behaviour change. It
is also technically difficult to accurately represent the CO2 involved
in different actions. In general, using kilowatt hours is recommended
because they are the true units and can be accurately measured.

For some appliances (e.g. those with few settings, like lights or a
television) it may be more appropriate to display the length of time
that an appliances has been onvi in addition to the energy it has
consumed. Also discussed by some has been the possibility of
displaying the data in terms of environmental degradation (e.g. sea
level rise) – this would be technically difficult and no evidence on
the effectiveness is known of, but would be an interesting field of
research.

(iii) The method of display is also important. The evidence from
billing suggests that graphical methods of communicating the data are
more effective than displaying digits. The type of graph chosen will
vary according to the data – e.g. whether the display is showing
historical data over time periods (a time-series) or a snapshot of
appliances in the house (a bar chart).

The standard ISO 9241-12 “Ergonomics of Human System Interaction” may
provide relevant information on clarity of information presentation…?

(iv) The displays must be capable of displaying data in near real-
time. It would be unnecessary and unwelcome to require all the data
measured to be communicated to the energy supplier, but in order to
effect some kinds of behaviour change (e.g. while using appliances
with little automation and many possible settings, like cooking),
feedback must be given soon after the behaviouriii. The screen should
refresh every second to provide this real-time feedback. To encourage
other sorts of behaviour (e.g. engaging people in the long term
monitoring of their home), the screen should be able to show data
collected over months or even a year (as mentioned above in point i).

= Q14 Do you have comments regarding the accessibility of meters/
display units for particular consumers (e.g. vulnerable consumers such
as the disabled, partially sighted/blind)? =

(I don’t think I can contribute much here)

i G Owen, J Ward, Smart Meters: Commercial, Policy and Regulatory
Drivers, 2006
ii Darby, 2006
iii Ammons 1956; Van Raaij & Verhallen, 1983
iv Department of Trade and Industry, Meeting the Energy Challenge A
White Paper on Energy, 2007
v BERR, Changing Customer Behaviour, 2008
vi Wood & Newborough, Energy-use information transfer for intelligent
homes: Enabling energy
conservation with central and local displays, 2006
vii M.L. Dennis, E.J. Soderstrom, W.S. Koncinski, B. Cavanaugh,
Effective dissemination of energy related
information, American Psychologist 45 (10) (1990) 1109–1117.
W. Kempton, M. Neiman, Energy Efficiency: Perspectives on Individual
Behaviour, American Council for
an Energy Efficient Economy Series on Energy Conservation and Energy
Policy, Washington, DC, 1987.
G. Wood, M. Newborough, Dynamic energy-consumption indicators for
domestic appliances: environment,
behaviour and design, Energy and Buildings 35 (2003) 821–841, 2002.
viii J.W. Senders, M. Cruzen, Tracking Performance on Combined and
Compensatory Pursuit Tasks, Wright
Air Development Center, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Dayton, Ohio,
1952.
ix P. Wesley Schultz, Jessica M. Nolan, Robert B. Cialdini, Noah J.
Goldstein, and Vladas Griskevicius,
The Constructive, Destructive, and Reconstructive Power of Social
Norms, Psychological Science, 2007
x S. Harkins, M. Lowe, The effects of self-set goals on task
performance, Journal of Applied Psychology 30
(2000) 1–40.
xi L.T. McCalley, C.J.H. Midden, Energy conservation through product
integrated feedback: the roles of
goal-setting and social orientation, Journal of Economic Psychology 23
(2002) 589–603.

Jamie

unread,
Jul 27, 2009, 12:55:44 PM7/27/09
to Design and Behaviour
Hey all

Thanks for all your input. Dan's kindly emailed me a collated version
of our thoughts, so I'm going to do an editing job and will post the
result up for you all to have a quick look at before sending off to
DECC.

Thanks again!

Jamie

Jamie

unread,
Aug 6, 2009, 1:01:52 PM8/6/09
to Design and Behaviour
Last message on this topic for the moment! Just thought I'd give some
"closure" to this thread by saying that we collated the above
contributers' ideas into one document and sent it in to DECC last
Monday. Something automatic wrote back and said:

"Thank you for responding to the smart metering consultation. This
email
is to acknowledge receipt of your response. The Government will
publish
its response to the consultation after the consultation has closed and
following consideration of all responses."

So I guess we just wait and see now - should be interesting to hear
what happens.

Thanks again to everybody that contributed - it was good to pool
ideas.

For future reference or if anyone's interested, here's a link to the
final PDF:
http://groups.google.co.uk/group/design-and-behaviour/web/Design%26BehaviourFinalResponse.pdf?hl=en

Jamie

Dan Lockton

unread,
Aug 11, 2009, 6:41:21 AM8/11/09
to Design and Behaviour
Here's the Energy Retail Association's response to the consultation -
http://www.energy-retail.org.uk/documents/ERAResponsetoDECCSmartMeteringConsultation030809.pdf

Reading quickly the sections of Q12, 13 and 14, it seems they don't
believe separate displays are worthwhile (partly because of the
proportion of users who'll ignore them), and that most aspects
(including the type of information displayed) should be left pretty
much up to the market.

Dan
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