Personal and Ubiquitous Computing

, Volume 19, Issue 5–6, pp 929–940 | Cite as

When an eco-feedback system joins the family

  • Stephen SnowEmail author
  • Dhaval Vyas
  • Margot Brereton
Original Article


The dynamic, chaotic, intimate and social nature of family life presents many challenges when designing interactive systems in the household space. This paper presents findings from a whole-of-family approach to studying the use of an energy awareness and management system called “Ecosphere”. Using a novel methodology of inviting 12 families to create their own self-authored videos documenting their energy use, we report on the family dynamics and nuances of family life that shape and affect this use. Our findings suggest that the momentum of existing family dynamics in many cases obstructs behaviour change and renders some family members unaware of energy consumption despite the presence of an energy monitor display in the house. The implication for eco-feedback design is that it needs to recognise and respond to the kinds of family relations into which the system is embedded. In response, we suggest alternative ways of sharing energy-related information among families and incentivising engagement among teenagers.


Family Eco-feedback Energy saving Reassurance 



We thank all the families involved in the study for their participation. We also thank Stockland for their invitation for us to collaborate on this project and Auztech for organising the initial interview times and for their willingness for us to research and critique the design of their Ecosphere product.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Queensland University of TechnologyBrisbaneAustralia

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