Smart Homes as a Means to Sustainable Energy Consumption: A Study of Consumer Perceptions
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European and national policies are aimed at reducing greenhouse gases and increasing energy efficiency—also in the household sector. For this purpose, new solutions for private homes based on information and communication technologies (ICT) are being developed and tested. However, up to now, hardly anyone has seen, experienced or lived in an environment that offers the full range of ICT-based energy management solutions. In this study, consumer reactions to a fully furnished and equipped smart home are analysed using focus groups (four groups with a total of 29 participants). The analysis looks at consumer perceptions of and reactions to an energy management system which optimizes electricity consumption based on different ICT solutions. The topics that were demonstrated in practice and then discussed with the participants included variable tariffs, smart metering, smart appliances, and home automation. In general, there were positive group reactions to the smart home environment. Consumers saw many advantages for themselves; especially the chance to save money. However, giving up high levels of flexibility and adapting everyday routines to fit in with electricity tariffs were regarded as difficult. Smart appliances and smart meters were therefore considered to be necessary elements by most participants. Concerns regarding data privacy played a major role in one of the groups.