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Report 21 June 2015

Smart lives: making smart smart

Smart technologies can help householders understand and manage their energy use, but our own trials show that just presenting data on its own achieves very little. The data needs to be made interesting to consumers and it should be supported by energy efficiency advice so people can be more informed and learn how to change their behaviour. It’s not just about the data being interesting – the research uncovers how different people respond in different ways to the technology which in turn affects how they use it and how manufacturers should take account of this in their marketing.

We need citizens to engage with their energy use in a new, deeper way, but this means giving them greater encouragement to consider upfront financial investment in technologies. We know that more and more consumers are taking an interest and we commissioned this piece of research from Goldsmiths to better understand the detail around what constitutes a smarter future.

Simply giving someone a smart device won’t necessarily mean that they engage with it. It will depend on how they relate with the information they get from it. And whilst the future of smart technology is headed toward remote automation, consumer trust in the technology and how companies use data is still a long way off.

Concepts of smart homes and consequently smart lives have been around since the 1970s, but it is only in the last few years since these technologies have become a reality that consumers have expressed a desire to know more about their energy use so they can save money and energy.

We commissioned this research to uncover how people engage with smart technologies. The answers in this report show that we must better understand how people feel and react to them before attempting to predict the implications for our smart future.

Last updated: 19 November 2020