The responses of older adults to smart energy monitors

Brown, Christopher J. and Markusson, Nils Olof (2019) The responses of older adults to smart energy monitors. Energy Policy, 130. pp. 218-226. ISSN 0301-4215

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By 2020, every UK household has the option to have a Smart Energy Monitor (SEM) installed, displaying electricity consumption monetarily. The success of the £11 billion scheme in enabling people to reduce energy consumption is questioned amongst researchers and relatively little is known about older adults' (60 + years) responses to SEMs. This paper explores older adult responses to SEM feedback and compares them to those of younger-middle aged adults (25–59 years). A qualitative, interpretative methodology was used with participants from 20 households recording their SEM experiences during one month through a diary, and post-study semi-structured interview allowing methodological triangulation. Data analysis indicated that older adults were generally more aware of their energy use pre-SEM and practiced energy saving behaviours learnt from upbringing. This appeared to result in negligible positive benefits and low engagement with the device. Other limiting factors included lack of technical skills and confidence, and the risk of losing the comfort and convenience of using electrical appliances. The device also triggered negative emotions and depression amongst some older adults surrounding electricity usage, potentially leading to dangerously cold homes. Consequently, the scheme's appropriateness is questioned, especially for older adults, and improvements are suggested for SEMs and the scheme.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Energy Policy
Additional Information:
This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Energy Policy. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Energy Policy, 130, 2019 DOI: 10.1016/j.enpol.2019.03.063
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Deposited On:
15 Apr 2019 11:05
Last Modified:
15 Sep 2023 04:28