A new study from researchers from Monash University’s Emerging Technologies Research Lab has analysed how the energy and tech sectors predict everyday lives will change in the home of the future.
Based on a review of key industry reports, this study reveals how the home of the future is envisaged and the limitations of these industry visions.
To date, digital technology and energy future predictions have been considered largely separate and distinct. The research report, released by the Emerging Technologies Research Lab, systematically brings together digital tech and energy industry futures for the first time, to reveal how they influence one another across a number of everyday household activities, such as working and studying from home.
The findings from the analysis were synthesised into six speculative future scenarios that show how dominant industry visions could impact on the home. These scenarios focus on the anticipated technology and energy trends likely to affect household electricity demand in the future, should dominant industry predictions come true.
The scenarios are:
- Cool and comfortable in extreme weather
- Stay at home life
- Ageing at home
- The smart and easy life
- The smart charging commuter
- The set and forget prosumer
The research team developed the scenarios into comic-strips to combine energy and digital technology industry visions for future homes. These comic-strip scenarios reveal the limitations of these industry visions, such as their focus on affluent, able and engaged households, who use technologies as intended by the energy and technology industries.
Lead author, Dr Kari Dahlgren, explained how the aggregated industry scenarios are intended to raise new questions about how future household practices will intersect with digital and energy futures.
“Each scenario draws together dominant energy and digital technology narratives, which are rarely considered together, and applies them to different everyday practice domains in the home. These practice domains, such as heating, cooling and comfort, correspond with where the majority of energy is consumed or where there are common peaks in demand,” Dr Dahlgren said.
During the second stage of the project, researchers will present these industry scenarios to a diverse set of households, to understand how they see their lives changing in relation to them, or in other ways not currently represented by the industry visions.
“Our intention is to apply the findings from this review in the second stage of this project, where we will conduct ethnographic fieldwork with 72 Australian households across Ausgrid and AusNet Services electricity distribution networks in metro and regional New South Wales and Victoria,” Dr Dahlgren said.
The report is the outcome of the first stage of a three-year project called Digital Energy Futures, which aims to better understand how these emerging technologies will impact our future energy needs and further our knowledge around how energy consumers’ at-home lifestyles and energy demand will change in the future.
“This first stage of the project has played a crucial role in revealing how digital technology trends, such as the internet of things, artificial intelligence, or virtual reality, are likely to complement and disrupt energy sector visions for increased distributed energy resources (such as residential solar PV and battery storage), automated appliances and electric vehicles,” project lead, Associate Professor Yolande Strengers, said.
“Understanding these co-evolving industries and their anticipated futures is absolutely essential to develop more accurate forecasts for residential energy demand in Australia.”
Digital Energy Futures is funded through the Australian Research Council Linkage Projects scheme as a $2.3 million partnership between Monash University, Ausgrid, AusNet Services and Energy Consumers Australia.