Automation versus control in smart energy systems

Lemmen, N., Steg, E. & Keizer, K., 2018, (Unpublished).

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractAcademic

To facilitate a sustainable energy transition and promote energy savings in households, engineers have developed convenient energy devices that automatically control appliances to match energy demand and supply. These devices bring convenience to the consumer. But is this really what consumers want? Do consumers want to delegate control to a system that makes life potentially more convenient? In this talk, I will discuss a series of experimental studies that aimed to explore the trade-off between user control, user frustration and engagement with sustainable energy systems. In the first series of studies, we explored the preferences of consumers for different technological devices that systematically varied in the amount of user control. In the second series of studies, we manipulated the amount of control participants had in the set-up of energy saving devices and measured effects on user frustration, preference for the devices and engagement with the device. Results showed that participants generally prefer high levels of user control, even if it is inconvenient to use. Also after experiencing frustration when using devices with high levels of user control, this preference did not disappear. Our studies suggest that user control plays an important role in both consumers’ preference and proper use of smart energy devices. I will explain the theoretical and practical implications of these studies. The studies provide important insights into how to design smart energy systems and user interfaces that are acceptable, adopted and properly used by consumers, as to promote sustainable energy choices that are needed to optimize a sustainable energy transition.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2018


  • Sustainable energy use, User Control, Automation, Smart Energy Systems

ID: 63934890