The use of apps to promote energy saving: A study of smart meter–related feedback in the Netherlands

Daphne Geelen, Ruth Mugge, Sacha Silvester, Annemieke Bulters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
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Feedback systems with direct feedback have shown to be effective in stimulating households to change their energy consumption levels. This research is one of the first to explore the use of apps to influence household energy use. Compared to dedicated in-home displays, smartphone/tablet apps provide a low-cost and simple design solution for making energy feedback available. This research consisted of three studies conducted with different samples within a selection of households where a smart meter was installed as part of the smart meter implementation program in the Netherlands. First, for a period of 16 months, electricity and gas consumption levels were measured for a large sample of households (n = 519) divided into an application user group and a reference group. Second, questionnaires (n = 270) provided insight in how people used the applications and to what extent the applications increased households’ insight in their energy consumption and stimulated behavior changes. Third, interviews (n = 12) were held to obtain more in-depth insight. In the sample with measured energy consumption, we did not find a significant reduction in electricity and gas consumption during this research. Yet in the questionnaires, the application users reported more energy awareness and indicated to have made more investments and changes in their behavior than the reference group. Most app users started using the first app they found and did not explore the other options. The interview results indicate that, after an initial learning period, the app was used to monitor the electricity and gas consumption levels, rather than to lower them. In line with other research into feedback, the interview results suggest that the apps could be more effective with information that is more actionable and meaningful with respect to one’s own specific situation and goals for the household. Further exploration is recommended with respect to how the design of such apps can encourage a wide audience not only to monitor their consumption, but also guide them in taking action to change their consumption levels.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1635-1660
Number of pages26
JournalEnergy Efficiency (online)
Issue number6
Early online date2019
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2019


  • Apps
  • Smart energy meters
  • Direct feedback
  • Energy saving
  • Behavior change
  • Households

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