Designing for energy responsibilities

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Today team member and ph.d. student Hanna Hasselqvist presented her ongoing work at her 50% seminar. The title of the seminar and the preliminary title of her thesis is ”Designing for (hidden) energy responsibilities” (abstract below).

Hanna held a very good presentation that was based on the two projects she has worked in; 1) a car-free year and 2) energy management for housing cooperatives.

There was a very interesting discussion about the connection between Social Practice Theory (SPT) and change. Cecilia’s question was if SPT (which mostly is an analytical tool) also helped them think about (how to make people) change (their behaviours). Hanna’s brutal answer was ”no, not directly”. The intervention (”stealing” people’s cars and replacing them with electric (box) bikes for a year) forced the families in question to develop new practices and SPT helped the researches understand and analyse these changes.

A crazy idea for the next project (in the intersection of research, design, art and activism) would be to find people with lapsed car insurance and steal (crash?) their cars to see what happens. A more forceful way to alter other peoples’ habits.

Hanna did well and passed her 50%, so congratulations Hanna!!

Hanna’s discussant was Maria Håkansson from Chalmers who followed-up the seminar by giving a talk of her own.


In the field of Sustainable Human-Computer Interaction, there are many examples of research exploring how ICT can be used to influence people’s energy use. Typically, this research focuses on domestic electricity use and on how to persuade individuals to reduce or change their use of electricity. However, the effectiveness of such approaches has been questioned and it has been proposed to look beyond the individual to the communities, corporations and governments that affect people’s energy practices. In my PhD work, which is now halfway through, I have studied roles and responsibilities that could influence energy related practices for the cases of personal transportation needs and energy use in apartment buildings. For each of the cases I have identified: key roles and responsibilities that could influence energy practices, examples of situations where ICT (together with other interventions) could support a more sustainable use of energy, and design aspects that are important to consider in such situations. These preliminary findings are presented and discussed together with suggestions for directions of future work.