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The Effects of In-Home Displays — Revisiting the Context

Hege Westskog, Tanja Winther, Hanne Sæle

In this paper, we investigate the extent to which the use of in-home displays affects daily practices and electricity consumption. Through two pilot projects, in-home displays were installed in 33 Norwegian homes, and we provide a qualitative analysis of the effects. The results point to the potential differences in the ways households interact with the in-home displays. The effects differed among various groups according to people’s previous experiences with monitoring and their level of affluence. In the sample, affluent respondents living in detached houses tended to be accustomed to monitoring consumption before the display was introduced. These families used the display for controlling that “nothing was wrong”, but they did not use the information provided by the display to initiate new energy saving measures. In contrast, among less affluent flat owners the notion of “control” was specifically linked to the family’s management of finances, and in this sense the displays empowered them. In addition, the results indicate that the in-home display for this group resulted in electricity savings. The study adds to earlier research on the effects of in-home displays by showing the importance of previous experience with monitoring electricity for the effects of feedback and by highlighting not only energy savings but also social effects of displays.

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