Building Energy Management
Behavior Research

Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems

Human factors in residential energy management: female hand adjusting a thermostat.

The Intersection of Technology and Behavior

Consumers have a broad range of new technologies to manage their energy consumption, such as smart thermostats, home automation systems, home energy displays (HEDs), and smart meters.

 

Typically, these products and systems build upon the deployment of smart meters, combined with in-home sensors, computing capability, and data acquisition and communication systems. Very often, the real-world effectiveness, household adoption and satisfaction of these technologies are not well understood, foremost due to occupant behavior. 

 

Our interdisciplinary team of engineers and behavioral scientists works at the intersection of these emerging technologies and occupant behavior to address the core challenges to realizing their energy savings potential.

 

Areas of Focus

 
  • Field evaluation of acceptance, comfort, and energy savings offered by energy management systems and behavioral interventions
  • Development of non-intrusive load monitoring (NILM) systems, using changes in voltage and current at the breaker level to track appliance usage and energy consumption.
  • Optimizing clients’ energy-saving technologies, programs, and communications via focus groups, surveys and structured interviews. 
  • Field and laboratory usability and user-acceptance evaluations 
  • Design and evaluation of strategies to increase adoption of residential energy management technologies
  • Energy modeling to rigorously evaluate how behavior affects whole-home energy consumption and peak electric demand
  • Development of smart meter data algorithms to identify building likely to enroll in energy efficiency and demand response programs.