Doing the laundry with agents: a field trial of a future smart energy system in the home
Costanza, Enrico and Fischer, Joel E. and Colley, James and Rodden, Tom and Ramchurn, Sarvapali D. and Jennings, Nicholas R. (2014) Doing the laundry with agents: a field trial of a future smart energy system in the home. In: CHI 2014: SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, 27 April - 1 May 2014, Toronto, Canada.
Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/2556288.2557167
Future energy systems that rely on renewable energy may bring about a radical shift in how we use energy in our homes. We developed and prototyped a future scenario with highly variable, real-time electricity prices due to a grid that mainly relies on renewables. We designed and deployed an agent-based interactive system that enables users to effectively operate the washing machine in this scenario. The system is used to book timeslots of washing machine use so that the agent can help to minimize the cost of a wash by charging a battery at times when electricity is cheap. We carried out a deployment in 10 households in order to uncover the socio-technical challenges around integrating new technologies into everyday routines. The findings reveal tensions that arise when deploying a rationalistic system to manage contingently and socially organized domestic practices. We discuss the trade-offs between utility and convenience inherent in smart grid applications; and illustrate how certain design choices position applications along this spectrum.
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