Learning to live in a smart home

Thomas Hargreaves, Charlie Wilson, Richard Hauxwell-Baldwin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

198 Citations (Scopus)
108 Downloads (Pure)


Smart homes promise to significantly enhance domestic comfort, convenience, security and leisure whilst simultaneously reducing energy use through optimized home energy management. Their ability to achieve these multiple aims rests fundamentally on how they are used by householders, yet very little is currently known about this topic. The few studies that have explored the use of smart homes have tended to focus on special-interest groups and be quite short-term. This paper reports on new in-depth qualitative data that explore the domestication of a range of smart home technologies in 10 households participating in a nine-month field trial. Four core themes emerge: (1) smart home technologies are both technically and socially disruptive; (2) smart homes require forms of adaptation and familiarization from householders that can limit their use; (3) learning to use smart home technologies is a demanding and time-consuming task for which there is currently very little support available; and (4) there is little evidence that smart home technologies will generate substantial energy savings and, indeed, there is a risk that they may generate forms of energy intensification. The paper concludes by discussing the implications of these findings for policy, design and further research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-139
Number of pages13
JournalBuilding Research & Information
Issue number1
Early online date22 Feb 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • domestication
  • field trial
  • qualitative analysis
  • smart homes
  • users

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