Energy impacts of the smart home: Conflicting visions

Sophie Nyborg, Inge Røpke

Research output: Contribution to book/anthology/report/conference proceedingArticle in proceedingResearchpeer-review

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To support the transition towards an energy system that is based 100 percent on renewable energy sources, the smart grid is presently undergoing rapid development in Denmark – a hype that can also be seen in the rest of the world. Many actors are playing in the field, and the present situation is characterized by great uncertainty as to the direction of the development. The paper focuses on the role of households in the smart grid visions proposed by a broad range of stakeholders. It has two aims: first, to sort out the threads of the discussion; what visions are formulated regarding the role of households in the smart grid? What visions are articulated for the functionalities of the smart home? Secondly, we critically investigate these visions to explore if they support the development of sustainable energy consumption. We claim that the smart home in the smart grid is the latest addition to a family of ideas emerging in relation to the application of information and communication technologies (ICT) in the home. The smart home is thus a melting pot of such different trends as automation of household chores, entertainment and energy management. These different ingredients of the melting pot co-evolve, we argue, and we suggest that the co-evolution may well have negative consequences for the overall energy impact of the transition. The smart grid could become a dynamic that constructs and normalizes new energy-demanding practices and facilitates escalating expectations to comfort. This paper only begins the exploration of the reported discussions; much more research in this area needs to be done.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEnergy Efficiency First: The foundation of a low-carbon society
Number of pages2129
Place of PublicationStockholm
PublisherEuropean Council for an Energy Efficient Economy
Publication date2011
ISBN (Print)978-91-633-4455-8
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes

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