People and energy

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Understanding the needs of consumers is vitally important if the UK is to transition to a smart, sustainable, secure and affordable energy system.

At the Energy Systems Catapult (ESC) we utilise bespoke consumer research and in-home technology (involving sensors in individual rooms) to understand their energy preferences – combining both what people say and what they do.

We deploy user-focused design to devise solutions to complex problems, like creating an energy services market where households can buy a ‘warm home’ instead of kWh of fuel.

The ESC works with innovators to test solutions in real homes to find out how people behave when introduced to new technologies – relating behaviour to energy use. We use models to study behaviour that is relevant to the energy system and data science to relate that behaviour to energy use.

The Consumer Insights team has distilled the lessons from over 670 academic publications on energy behaviour, thermal comfort and decision science.

Working with experts from other disciplines, the team has:

  • run trials to understand how home life shapes energy use
  • heard directly from the people testing our systems
  • conducted surveys to find out which energy services appeal to different households
  • developed a platform that reveals customers’ preferences

Moving forward the team is currently:

  • creating a community of 100 households to discover which energy services people prefer
  • integrating commercial and policy constraints to help us switch local areas, en masse, from gas to lower carbon heating
  • building a ‘Fair Futures’ alliance to ensure emerging technologies take account of vulnerable people and prevent decarbonisation from pushing people into fuel poverty

Contact for more information

If you are working on a product, service, strategy or policy in the energy sector and want to understand the consumer perspective, please contact:

Email: innovation@es.catapult.org.uk