Are smart devices enough to save energy?

Envision-Monitoring on News

In the age of technology and innovation, wherein appliances and gadgets (or as you call it “smart devices”) are now interconnected, it is hard to see the line on which consumes more energy and what exactly to do about it.


An assistant professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology’s School of Public Policy, Mr. Omar Isaac Asensio said that U.S. consumers and businesses already have installed some 3.4 billion connected consumer devices, from color changing light bulbs to streaming security cameras. Though the said devices have minimal physical footprints, they draw enormous amounts of energy, consuming about 15% of the global growth in electricity demand.


In Nature Energy’s September issue, Asensio calls to address consumer misconceptions and wrong perceptions about power usage and to make an action towards energy conservation. He said this in regard to the forecasts about billions of installations for such devices in the upcoming years.


The rise of smart devices is set to outpace traditional consumer electronics. Such events will make it even harder to understand and conserve energy at home. These devices draw power for two-way, on-call communications. Asensio also said,


“This is what economists refer to as a behavioral failure and it brings to center stage the need for behavioral interventions that can correct consumer misperceptions of household energy use.”

A research paper from scholars at Indiana University examined the effectiveness of two types of interventions that are meant to help correct misperceptions of consumers about appliances that use the most energy. A randomized online experiment was done by Indiana University to examine the effect of one intervention called “anchoring” in which the participants were made aware of energy usage across devices that consume power on both high and low ends of the scale, and the other intervention about informing the respondents that large and cooling appliances consume more energy than what is thought of by the majority of people.


The second intervention, in which participants were given simple techniques to estimate energy consumption worked better. The research ended with the conclusion: “simply offering a conservation message may not be as important as how the conservation message is framed to consumers.”


In 2015, Asensio conducted a study using individualized messages sent through websites and emails that highlight the negative impacts of electricity production. These delivered messages resulted in an 8% reduction in power consumption.


Connected devices are indefinitely about to shift patterns electricity use, that is why targeted messages about invisible power are needed ” at the place where it will do the most: built into such devices and the smartphone apps that drive them,” as Asensio put it in his article.


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