Colloquium announcement

Faculty of Engineering Technology

Department Design, Production and Management
Master programme Sustainable Energy Technology

As part of his / her master assignment

Alonzo Sierra

will hold a speech entitled:

Developing Guidelines for the successful User-centred Design of Smart Energy Products and Services



A design-driven approach to the development of smart energy products and services (SEPS) can create a new perspective for making residential energy use more sustainable by including user insights in the early stages of the product development process. To this end, the present work seeks to identify the sociotechnical factors that determine whether a SEPS design will be successfully accepted and implemented by end users, as well as translating these factors into clear guidelines for creating future SEPS designs. 

A preliminary literature study identified the diffusion of new SEPS and user-SEPS interaction as two of the key barriers for the design of these products at present. Processes such as product adoption, engagement, control, user feedback and the use of incentives all play a crucial role in overcoming these barriers. In order to evaluate these issues, three SEPS designs created by students at the University of Twente were selected for functional prototyping, followed by end user testing in two locations in the Netherlands. The energy data measured during these tests, as well as the insights gained through user interviews and questionnaires, revealed valuable information on some of the design factors that had an impact in encouraging user acceptance and achieving a more sustainable energy use.

The results obtained during end user tests were further validated at the Austrian Institute of Technology (AIT), where high-precision testing equipment was used to confirm that the algorithms developed for each prototype accurately interpret energy consumption and production inputs to give users clear feedback into their household energy use. Several use scenarios for each SEPS were simulated as well, which helped visualise how the prototypes would perform in situations not seen in end user tests and identify some of the potential issues that could limit their effectiveness.

Finally, the insights gained from the end user tests, prototype validation and use scenario simulations were used to propose a set of guidelines for the user-centred design of future SEPS. These guidelines include focusing on simple solutions which guide users through a learning process, managing end user expectations before and during SEPS use and adapting to different behavioural patterns and interpersonal dynamics, among other actions.