Who Controls Energy in the Smart Home? A Multidisciplinary Taxonomy
Advances in technology have begun to open new opportunities for behavior-based and technical approaches to managing residential energy use and meet sustainability-related objectives. Visions of the future predict homes with smart technologies delivering enhanced comfort and cost savings to residents; utility-partners who can remotely optimize energy resources to meet grid needs; and occupants who play more active roles in the energy system supported by advanced information communication technologies. Each of these scenarios implies augmented control over home energy use, yet uncertainties remain regarding which ones will deliver the greatest grid benefits and services to customers in a given situation. These scenarios also raise broader questions regarding customer agency and the relationship between customers and third parties moving forward. While both the provision of information to spur behavior change and automated technologies theoretically enhance control over energy use in the built environment, these strategies are not often studied from an integrated perspective. Seeking to address this gap and develop a deeper understanding of the evolving paradigm of control over home energy use, this paper presents a taxonomy to evaluate perspectives from public policy (ex. demand-side management), technological innovation (automated controls), and user-agency (ex. the role of behavior change) on approaches to managing home energy use. We draw on theoretical and empirical evidence from across disciplines to detail the dimensions and implications of deploying programs that incorporate various levels of control and anticipate such a taxonomy will help holistically map out and evaluate tradeoffs between different approaches to demand-side management moving forward.