Despite widespread recognition of diminishing fossil fuel reserves and its negative environmental impact, a significant proportion of energy consumption is through wasteful due inefficient practices. The main consumption source comes from transport (32%), followed by the residential sector (27%) and the industry (25%). In this context, it is clear that the reduction of consumption in the residential sector should play an important role in energy efficiency programmes and policies. To achieve the ambitious energy goals established by the EU, it is mandatory to propose integral measures and activities that promote energy saving in domestic area.
To this end, several policy, business and research initiatives have been implemented at national and European level, most of them focusing on house technical installations and structural changes and have predominantly adopted an instrument-oriented approach. In spite some of them were successful many of them failed due to low user engagement and participation since they were ignoring the different factors affecting user behaviour.
Encouraging the uptake of some of the most effective energy efficiency measures demands an understanding of how people behave and use energy in their homes and businesses, and why they do not perform sustainable practices, in order to identify and overcome the barriers that are hindering users’ involvement in more energy efficient consumption patterns. In addition, important for consumer behaviour change is the provision of real-time or periodical feedback about energy consumption to the user. People have only a vague idea about their energy usage and therefore of the potential to save energy by changing their consumption patterns. In this context consumer feedback is an essential element in changing consumers’ attitudes. On the other hand, fine-granular smart meter data that are currently available have not being exploited in a large extension for feedback experiments. Data of electricity use are globally compared considering month or bimonthly, but shorter periods can reveal much more relevant information about unsustainable practices.
In summary, we can conclude that increasing social involvement in energy reduction can be achieved by enhancing feedback methodologies and exploitation granular data provided by smart meters as well as by a complete characterization of users and their households. NATCONSUMERS will work in this direction by putting together the energy system stakeholders for developing larger scale and geographic distributed studies about people behaviour and energy consumption, and the definition of standardised and customised protocols for implementing novel users’ feedback methodologies that lead to the engagement of people in more efficient energy use practices. The outputs of this project will be the basis for a large-scale EU demonstration of feedback methodologies for sustainability residential use of electricity, being an essential and needed step for obtaining a high impact in consumer behaviour.
The key objective of NATCONSUMERS is to develop an advanced and integral user-centred framework for the implementation of efficient energy feedback programmes in the domestic area. Our approach relies in the complete characterisation of the EU energy consumer, and the design of specific personalised actions tailored to each consumer pattern detected based on the use of natural language and emotional contents. Understanding public needs and adapting to their requirements and expectations are the most appropriate mechanisms for increasing the engagement of citizens in more sustainable energy consumption habits. NATCONSUMERS will set the scenario to allow strengthening the dialogue between the EU energy system stakeholders in order to define robustness methodologies exploiting to the maximum the potential of energy feedback approaches, filling the existing gaps not still covered by previous pilots and experiments.
In this context, the specific objectives of the project are:
- To evaluate the context and situation of domestic energy consumption in EU
- To achieve a characterization of the residential users’ profile in terms of energy consumption
- To classify EU energy consumers
- To create a users’ engagement framework for the promotion of sustainable energy practices
- To establish a framework for the generation of results of interest for all the stakeholders related with the energy system (consumer, energy suppliers, governments, energy SMEs and research institutions)
- To launch a fruitful cooperation and transfer of knowledge between academia and industry in order to generate new policies, products and services.