Getting to Green: Understanding Resource Consumption in the Home

TitleGetting to Green: Understanding Resource Consumption in the Home
Publication TypeConference Papers
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsChetty M, Tran D, Grinter RE
Conference NameUbiComp '08
Date Published2008///
ISBN Number978-1-60558-136-1
Keywordsdomestic conservation, residential resource consumption, Sustainability

Rising global energy demands, increasing costs and limited natural resources mean that householders are more conscious about managing their domestic resource consumption. Yet, the question of what tools Ubicomp researchers can create for residential resource management remains open. To begin to address this omission, we present a qualitative study of 15 households and their current management practices around the water, electricity and natural gas systems in the home. We find that in-the-moment resource consumption is mostly invisible to householders and that they desire more real-time information to help them save money, keep their homes comfortable and be environmentally friendly. Designing for domestic sustainability therefore turns on improving the visibility of resource production and consumption costs as well as supporting both individuals and collectives in behavior change. Domestic sustainability also highlights the caveat of potentially creating a green divide by making resource management available only to those who can afford the technologies to support being green. Finally, we suggest that the Ubicomp community can contribute to the domestic and broader sustainability agenda by incorporating green values in designs and highlight the challenge of collecting data on being green.