Reducing domestic energy consumption: a user-centred design approach

Energy use within the UK domestic sector is on the increase, causing significant environmental and social stresses. This increase in energy consumption is not only due to the rising proliferation of technological devices within the home, but also to their context of use, and the behaviours and habits attributed to and enacted through their operation. To reduce energy consumption we need to engage with householders in meaningful and effective ways to prompt more efficient behaviour. This paper examines the role of design in influencing a change in energy using behaviours within the context of social housing. Drawing upon the findings of an interdisciplinary literature review the authors outline the impact of domestic comfort practices on energy use. The emerging field of Design for Sustainable Behaviour is mapped out with relevant behaviour models and theories, and factors which could inform the development of design interventions to promote energy reducing comfort practices in social housing are discussed. The paper concludes with an evaluation of the types of interventions which could prove effective in reducing energy consumption in social housing whilst still delivering comfort.