1st ever Energy-Feedback Symposium
“Feedback in energy demand reduction: Examining evidence and exploring opportunities”
Edinburgh, 4-5 July 2016
Energy feedback – the provision of energy-consumption information to energy-users – forms a core component of many initiatives that aspire to shift or reduce energy demand. It features in both domestic and non-domestic settings and takes many forms including utility bills, in-home-displays, phones apps, emails from facilities managers, advice from friends and guidance from consumer and business support centres.
In recent years, the world-wide roll out of smart-metering has led to a surge in feedback-related initiatives with academics, policy-makers and those in industry keen to identify if and how it can promote energy efficiency and reduction. With this in mind, this Symposium sought to bring together all those with an interest in energy-feedback to share the latest empirical evidence in this arena and to reflect on current and future research, policy and practice in the field.
Over 40 speakers and 40 participants shared insights from academia, industry and policy and we were pleased to be joined by key note speakers:
- Sarah Darby, University of Oxford
- Karen Ehrhardt-Martinez, Navigant
- Tom Hargreaves, University of East Anglia
As a permanent output of the event we are able to share the following:
1) Symposium Booklet containing extended abstracts of all presentations given [TEDDINET Energy Feedback Symposium_July 2016_Full programme and abstracts]
[Thanks to Evan Morgan (University of Edinburgh), the papers have also been made into a Mendeley group for easy citation and sharing – https://www.mendeley.com/groups/9024641/teddinet-energy-feedback-symposium-2016/]
2) Speaker Presentations where author permission has been provided [see below]
3) “What is the most pressing question in energy feedback” Participant responses to this question crowd-sourced during the Symposium [Most pressing questions in energy feedback]
4) Invited Blogs reflecting on the Symposium by Alexa Spence (University of Nottingham) and Jack Kelly (Imperial College London) [see below]
Building Research & Information has expressed an interest in creating a special issue based on the Symposium, so watch this space for details!
We would like to thank all those who took the time and effort to come along to the event and helped to make it such an interesting and productive few days!
Convenors: Kathryn Buchanan (University of Essex) & Sam Staddon (University of Edinburgh)
“Thank you so much for organising and running this fantastic seminar! You brought together all research areas which helped to form an integrated and holistic picture of the topic. Very well done in terms of topics, speakers and all practicalities!”
PRESENTATIONS given during the Symposium
KEY NOTE 1 Sarah Darby, University of Oxford Feedback in context – a reflection
SESSION 1 – ‘Delivering Feedback’
- Vanquishing Energy Vampires_The Failure of Feedback Riccardo Russo & Kathryn Buchanan, University of Essex
- Nat Consumers_Natural Language Feedback Caitlin Bent & Greg Shreeve, Energy Saving Trust
- iBert_Intelligent Support System for Energy Behaviour Change Nataliya Mogles, University of Bath
- Mental Model Interface Design_Putting Users in Control Kirsten Revell & Neville Stanton, University of Southampton
- Investigating Smart Metering in the Home_How Users Comprehend Graphic Representations of Residential Electricity Feedback System Melanie Herrmann, University College London
- Designing Successful Feedback Interfaces for Home Energy Systems_The Aging Population Perspective Bruce Stephen & Mike Danson et al., University of Strathclyde & Heriot Watt University
KEY NOTE 2 Karen Ehrhardt-Martinez, Navigant
SESSION 2 – ‘Advanced Feedback: Disaggregation & Visuals’
- Does Disaggregated Electricity Feedback Reduce Electricity Consumption? A Critical Review of the Literature Jack Kelly, Imperial College London
- Utilising Disaggregated Electricity Feedback Design_The IDEAL project Martin Pullinger & Nigel Goddard et al., University of Edinburgh
- Energy feedback enabled by load disaggregation Lina Stankovic et al., University of Strathclyde
- Visualising Scale-Invariant Comparative Energy Use Gerard Briscoe, Glasgow School of Art
- Lessons on Visual Feedback from the Eviz Project_The Evidence for Using Thermal Images as a Visual Intervention Matthew Fox, University of Plymouth
SESSION 3 – ‘Learning Lessons & Limits’
- Exploring Energy Feedback at Community and Household Level through Thermography, Carbon Mapping, Online Platform and Home Energy Visits Rajat Gupta & Laura Barnfield, Oxford Brookes University
- The Effect of Real-Time Context-Aware Feedback on Occupants Heating Behaviour and Thermal Adaptation Marika Vellei et al., University of Bath
- Quantifying Likely Energy Reduction Opportunities in Family Homes Paula Cosar-Jorda, University of Loughborough
- Between Empowerment and Alienation: How Feedback Technologies Can Harm the Prospects of Successful Energy Transitions Marianne Ryghaug et al., Norwegian University of Science and Technology
KEY NOTE 3 Tom Hargreaves, University of East Anglia Beyond Energy Feedback
SESSION 4 A – ‘Beyond Domesticity: Feedback Outside of the Home’
- GENIE_Goal-setting and ENergy Information Engagement_in the Workplace Alexa Spence et al., University of Nottingham
- Energy Feedback in the Workplace_Effects of Display Units Caroline Leygue & Alexa Spence, University of Nottingham
- Energy Feedback in Office Workplaces_Approach Design and Implementation Magdalena Boork , Technical Research Institution of Sweden & C. Katzeff, KTH Royal Institute of Technology
- An Interactive and Diagnostic Energy Use Analysis Interface for Facilities ManagersPaul Shabajee et al., University of Bristol
- Household Energy Saving Behaviour and Smart Grid Communication between Utilities and Customers Josephine Munene et al., Clark University, USA
- Challenges of Feedback in Organisations_Can We Foster Partnerships not Projects Richard Bull, De Montfort University & Kathryn Janda, University of Oxford
SESSION 4 B – ‘Linking to Theories & Disciplines’
- The role of non-numeric feedback in reducing domestic energy consumption_Lessons from Freiburg and Besançon Arian Mahzouni, Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden
- Constructing Policy Feedback On Energy Feedback_When Is Feedback ‘Working’? Rosie Robison & Chris Foulds, Anglia Ruskin University
- Energy feedback_Place policy and mobility Heather Lovell, University of Tasmania, Australia & Gareth Powells, Newcastle University
- Advances in Understanding Energy Consumption Behaviour and the Governance of its Change_Outline of an Integrated Framework Annika Sohre, University of Basel, Switzerland
- Beyond Calorie Counting_What Can Energy Feedback Learn From Weight Loss Programs? Michelle Shipworth, University College London
SESSION 5A – ‘Communities & Collectives’
- Householder Engagement with Energy Consumption Feedback_The Role of Community Action and Communications Kevin Burchell et al., University of Westminster [presenting remotely]
- Transforming feebdack into collective knowledgeLara Picollo, Open University
- Social Media and Smart Phones_A way of influencing behavioural change using feedback Andy Stephenson et al., National Energy Action
- 7 Families – 7 Solar PV panels, 7 Pre-Payment meters – 1 Estate Nicolette Fox, University of Sussex [link to video only]
SESSION 5B – ‘Gamification of feedback’
- Reflections on designing an engaging in-home energy dashboard using participatory design and gamification Georgina Wood, University of Birmingham
- Exploring the Challenges and Opportunities of EcoFeedback Technology for Shifting Electricity Use at Home Nervo Verdezoto, University of Leicester
- Triggering Electricity-Saving Through Smart Meters_Play Learn And Interact Using Gamification And Social Comparison Roberta Castri, University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland
SESSION 6 – ‘Insights from Industry & Policy’
- Energy Efficiency Advice: A Toolkit for Engaging Consumers at Smart Meter Installation Visits Andrew Charlesworth, DECC
- Improving participation in the energy market Alexander Belsham Harris Citizens Advice
- The surge of energy data_What does it mean for EDF Energy employees and householders Christopher Weeks, EDF/University of Bristol
- How is feedback on energy consumption currently being delivered to customers Scott Bryant, Delta EE
- Energy-feedback services provided by utilities_Lessons learnt from the Empowering project Stoyan Danov, CIMNE
- Waiting for Data_Market Adaptations to Poor Smart Meter Policies in AmericaMurray, Mission.Data
SESSION 7 – ‘Finding a Way Forward: Research in the “Real World”
Interactive session by David Shipworth (UCL) with panel discussants Andrew Charlesworth (DECC), Simon Anderson (Green Energy Options), Sarah Darby (University of Oxford), Karen Ehrhardt-Martinez (Navigant) and Tom Hargreaves (University of East Anglia)
INVITED BLOGS reflecting on the Symposium
ALEXA SPENCE (University of Nottingham)
Nice one TEDDINET, the Energy Feedback symposium in Edinburgh was a very on point session. And collegiate: shared facilities in the accommodation ensured we all got to know each other a little better than we might have liked (!) but this was offset by a great view of Arthur’s seat (which a couple of us conquered the first morning).
A well-organised event (well done particularly Sam Staddon and Kathryn Buchanan) with short 10-minute presentations (always welcome from me, I can’t sit through long talks) and plenty of extra interactive features, including extra DIY, topic-focused, name tags to help facilitate conversation and a pub quiz during the conference dinner (though why that stupid laughometer got so well rated in that creative idea section I still don’t know – hmph). Good to see such a mixed group of researchers as well, not just in terms of different disciplines but also in terms of different stakeholders – in addition to academics, we had policy makers, NGOs, and industry represented.
The key focus, in line with the title, was on energy feedback and the potential impact on energy savings. We saw some excellent talks utilising different methods and media and which went beyond just simple feedback and which, it was generally agreed, could be useful on its own but had much more potential when combined with other aspects of interventions (e.g., tailored advice, new smart energy technologies). Several speakers also highlighted the need for understanding how feedback helped people to save energy however only some of the research started to meet this need. Beyond the potential of feedback to provide increased visibility of energy use, and increased understanding of where energy is used, Sarah Derby in her keynote, did highlight an interesting idea around the potential for feedback to enable social learning where people discuss and disseminate energy saving understandings to one another; further empirical support still needed for this idea though I think. Disaggregated feedback was also a feature though there was healthy scepticism from a significant proportion of attendees over whether this is a feasible and useful direction for the field.
Notably, a nice range of theoretical perspectives is always evident within the TEDDINET group and this event was no different. However I do agree with Kathryn Buchanan who highlighted it would be good to see a clearer role of theory. Particularly prevalent were HCI (Human Computer Interaction) focused participatory design approaches, individual psychological behaviour change approaches and those based on (the continuingly trendy) practice theory. There were many observations that psychological behaviour change approaches are overly focused on the individual, and I do think this is an important (albeit not new) observation. However I would caution confounding this problem with disciplinary differences. Indeed there are many psychology behaviour change theories that acknowledge and focus on the role of social processes, social behaviour, and civic actions and I would call for more researchers to consider applying, and helping to develop these within the field.
Looking forward to the next one…
JACK KELLY (Imperial College London)
The Energy Feedback symposium was thoroughly thought-provoking and enjoyable. The program was jam-packed with information and informed opinion.
In this blog post, rather than try to give a blow-by-blow account of every talk, I’ll describe two themes which jumped out at me as being especially interesting. My selection will inevitably be subjective and will reflect my background as a computer scientist.
Theme 1: Face-to-face energy advice works well. Can we achieve similar success with automated feedback systems?
During Sarah Darby’s wonderful keynote, Sarah emphasised that face-to-face energy advice can produce sizeable energy reductions if the advisers are unpatronising, knowledgeable and approachable. Later in the day, both Sarah and Andrew Charlesworth from DECC emphasised the important role played by the smart meter installer in providing an introduction to the in-home-display and some basic energy advice. And Rajat Gupta emphasised the importance of face-to-face conversations when discussing thermography images.
During the Q&A to Sarah’s keynote, Nigel Goddard raised the question of how to scale-up this kind of advice using automated services. Later in the day, during his talk, Nigel explained that he wants to build an automated “energy advisor / therapist” that needs to be interactive rather than just providing generic feedback. Then, on the second day, Christopher Weeks spoke briefly about EDF’s ambition to create a system which can deliver personalised feedback via “natural engagement”.
I’m not entirely sure if this is what Nigel or Chris meant; but I’m intrigued by the idea of an automated “energy therapist” which can converse using natural language. I imagine a “Siri-like” system which knows about each user’s appliance-by-appliance energy consumption, building fabric, energy-consuming behaviours etc. and can provide tailored advice including, perhaps, an ability to adjust to each user’s level of background knowledge and provide appropriate visualisations, explanations, estimated benefits etc. It’s certainly a very juicy computer science challenge!
Like most feedback systems, it would presumably still require users to actively engage with the system. The symposium was full of evidence that most people just don’t care enough about their energy consumption to be motivated to engage with feedback systems, no matter how clever those systems are. Supposedly some of the power of face-to-face interactions with (human) energy advisers is that the householder will engage fully with a human adviser whilst they are in the home (because it would be rude not to) and that the adviser can visually inspect the home (e.g. spotting draughty windows). Is there any hope to replicate these in an automated system?
Theme 2: Exactly what are we trying to achieve with feedback? Why? Who benefits? What’s the scope of the study?
During Karen Ehrhardt-Martinez’s fascinating keynote she asked “exactly what are we solving for?”. This plea to be clear about exactly what we’re trying to achieve was echoed by others many times during the symposium. Are we trying to reduce energy consumption? Or increase comfort? Or shift load? Or increase engagement with a utility’s website? Or sell a product? Or change society? Or increase energy literacy? Or something else?
Christopher Weeks posed the provocative question of “will feedback provide the answer to a customer’s burning question?”.
Tom Hargreaves’ wonderful keynote included a plea to recognise that users don’t set out to use energy. Instead they set out to cook some toast. Or clean their clothes. Or throw a party. Hence, in order to understand what drives energy use (and hence understand how to reduce energy demand), we need to consider a very wide range of influences and “non-energy feedbacks” (such as the kids shouting “Mum! I’m cold!”); many of which crowd out the signal from energy feedback interventions.
The symposium was highly engaging and I learnt a lot. Thank you very much to the organisers, speakers and participants for making it such a wonderful event.