20:20 15 August 2017
Smart home control devices are often marketed as the Holy Grail to reducing energy bills. Devices such as connected light bulbs and smart plugs allow you to operate or automate lights and other appliances from your smartphone. But do they really help you manage your energy use?
A recent research published by RMIT University’s Centre for Urban Research suggests that these devices are not the “easy” answer to energy management. Researchers found that consumers can use such devices in ways that increase energy use rather than reduce it. In addition, many people find them too complicated to get up and running.
The study, which was funded by Energy Consumers Australia, was participated by 46 households in Victoria and South Australia. Each household was given a couple of market-leading smart control devices to try out.
After the trial, the researchers found that a quarter of the households did not even attempt to install the devices while another quarter tried but failed to install them. 25% of the participants installed the devices but abandoned because of smartphone compatibility issues, unreliable WiFi or Internet access, forgotten passwords, device app problems including recurring error messages, and concern over requests to hand over personal information.
Researchers said: Our findings are also consistent with another recent trial of smart home technologies in the UK. That study found that participants made either limited or no use of similar devices to manage their energy use. Like us, the research team raised concerns about the potential for smart control to generate new forms of energy demand.
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