The hidden energy cost of smart homes

This week we teamed up with some UK researchers from the Dynamics of Energy, Mobility and Demand (DEMAND) Centre to talk about the ‘hidden’ energy cost of smart homes.

Our research is already showing that there is more than meets the eye when it comes to smart home and ‘the internet of things’ (IOT) energy-saving claims. In this article for The Conversation we identify three areas where smart homes and IoT might increase energy demand. The exact impacts are still unknown, but our point is that we need to start paying attention to areas which are normally overlooked in claims about how connected devices can save households energy.

As our research project progresses, we’ll be thinking and writing about ways in which the industry and other interested parties can start to counteract some of these potential trends. We’re also exploring how these issues play out in Australian households who are making use of smart technologies.

Creating pleasance: new needs for the smart home

Our content analysis of smart home magazine and online articles has revealed how home automation proponents are advocating the pursuit of ‘one touch’ systems intended to deliver energy-efficient ‘pleasance’. This ‘fundamental feeling’ involves an electrically-enabled and automated aesthetic and sensory experience intended to deliver ‘comfort, romance and peace of mind’ to the home (Lutron 2015).

In this talk for the Dynamics of Energy Mobility and Energy Demand (DEMAND) at Lancaster University I discuss what the implications of this vision are for energy demand and household labour. I argue that pleasance has the potential to shift the boundaries of everyday practices to include more home automation devices. Pleasance is intended to permeate within and beyond the home to create ‘whole-of-property’ experiences, and can now be controlled from anywhere in the world. It may also generate ‘more work for father’ through additional programming and technology household labour. The pursuit of pleasance could create new demands for energy which are currently masked by the energy-efficiency gaze of home automation technologies and associated promotional materials.

Download the presentation slides here.