Smarter Households

Description: An Intelligent Digital Household Network to Transform Low Carbon Lifestyles

PI: Professor Shuli Liu, Coventry University

Fund: £1.1m BuildTEDDI

Project lifespan: Jan 2013 to Jan 2018




Smarter Households is a 5 year research project that aims to develop an interactive digital system designed to make it easier for households to see, understand and manage their energy consumption and bills.

The project has 4 stages:

  • To develop an Integrated Meter and Sensor System (IMSS) which supports understanding of consumption through an in-home 3D ‘energy dashboard’, displaying real-time utility use and indoor environmental conditions
  • To build a virtual energy world game which aims to engage all members of the household with managing their energy use and maintaining a comfortable and healthy home, in a fun and interactive way
  • To trial the IMSS and game with Orbit Group households in the West Midlands for one year, exploring their daily routines and interactions with the technology
  • To create low carbon lifestyle activities to broaden the reach of the project through public engagement initiatives


The IMSS system comprises electricity and gas monitoring, along with sensors measuring carbon dioxide, humidity, indoor temperature and outdoor temperature. This is installed into 20 households, all of whom are provided with a tablet on which to view their data via an ‘Energy Dashboard’ app. The households will be introduced to the virtual energy world game partway through the one year trial (2016-2017).

Each household will be interviewed at the start of the trial in order to understand their daily routine and energy usage, and at the end of the trial to explore the impact of the IMSS and game. Throughout the trial, each household will be given short activities in order to encourage engagement with their data and understanding of healthy and comfortable indoor environmental conditions.

Case study and findings

The IMSS system will be installed into 20 houses, and all the householders will be encouraged into the VEWG. The energy consumption of water, electricity, gas will be measured through the smart meters and the indoor environment such as temperature, humidity and CO2 will be monitored. The householders will be engaged with the real time energy consumption through the serious game. Relevant education package on the low carbon life style will be generated by the social scientists. This will be the foundation to enable the householders reflect back to their house energy consumption. This project also focuses on next generation, children and teenagers. Low carbon life style will be a long term project for householders, facility suppliers, and the government.

Key outputs

Mallaband, B., Wood, G., Buchanan, K., Staddon, S., Mogles, N. M., & Gabe-Thomas, E. (2017). The reality of cross-disciplinary energy research in the United Kingdom: A social science perspective. Energy Research & Social Science, 25, 9-18.

Van der Horst, D., Harrison, C., Staddon, S., & Wood, G. (2016). Improving energy literacy through student-led fieldwork–at home. Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 40(1), 67-76.

Wood, G., Day, R., van der Horst, D. and Liu, S. (2016). Negotiating 'smart' energy technology in the home: Intervening in everyday life and the socio-materiality of the household. Paper presented at 3rd Energy & Society Conference, 12-14 September 2016, Leipzig, Germany.

Wood, G., van der Horst, D., Day, R., Liu, S., Gaterell, M., Petridis, P., Hussain, A. and Shukla, A. (2016).Reflections on designing an engaging in-home energy dashboard using participatory design and gamification’. Paper presented at Feedback in Energy Demand Reduction: Examining Evidence and Exploring Opportunities- 1st Energy Feedback Symposium, University of Edinburgh, 4-5 July 2016, pp. 235-242.

Wood, G., van der Horst, D., Day, R., Bakaoukas, A.G., Petridis, P., Liu, S., Jalil, L., Gaterell, M., Smithson, E., Barnham, J., Harvey, D., Yang, B. and Pisithpunth, C. (2014). 'Serious games for energy social science research', Technology Analysis & Strategic Management, 2014.

Smithson, E. (2014). A green campus to smart digital households. Paper presented at International Greening Education Event, 29-31st October 2014, Karlsruhe, Germany.

Bakaoukas, A. (2014). Plus width modulation (PWN) method for power components estimation in power meters, The 10th International Conference on Intelligent Environments, 30th June-4th July 2014, Shanghai, China.

Shikder, S., Liu, S., Gaterell, M. and Smithson, E. (2013). Feasibility investigation of smart meters in delivering low carbon community: a consumer engagement perspective, 12th International Conference on Sustainable Energy technologies (SET-2013), 26-29th August 2013,Hong Kong.

Academic partners

Coventry University

Professor Shuli Liu

Dr Ashish Shukla

Atif Hussain

University of Portsmouth

Professor Mark Gaterell

Aston University

Dr Panos Petridis

University of Birmingham

Dr Rosie Day

University of Edinburgh

Dr Dan van der Horst

Dr Georgina Wood

Commercial Partners

Dr Stephen Worrall, E.ON

John Barnham, Orbit Group