Game-changing data

At a time when the term sobriety is on everyone's lips, researchers from the HUT- Human at home - are banking on better transmission of their consumption data to users, in order to anchor more virtuous behavior in the long term. After an initial phase in an observatory apartment, a second phase is being prepared on a collective scale.

Between ecological awareness and economic necessity, more and more users are turning to consumption monitoring applications. " Often managed by energy suppliers, meter readings don't always enable users to fully understand their consumption and adopt more virtuous behavior over time," explains Anne-Sophie Cases, marketing researcher at Montpellier Research in Management* and coordinator of the Human at Home (HUT) project.

Co-constructing a model

For 4 years, a multidisciplinary team of researchers was able to work with data collected in an observatory apartment equipped with numerous sensors and inhabited by a pair of students known as "cohabitants" (HUT: Towards a human and intelligent habitat). " Our first objective was to co-construct with them a feedback model enabling them to measure the gap between their perception and their actual consumption", continues the researcher. To achieve this objective, researchers and co-inhabitants opted for a monthly newsletter, displayed as a floor plan of the apartment, with consumption indications by item. "The idea was to offer a highly visual reading experience, while avoiding graphs or diagrams, which have little impact on changing practices.

Another demand from cohabitants: to be able to situate their consumption over time, but also within a social norm, by providing elements of comparison. "Sending data for data's sake is useless! It has to be commented on," asserts the HUT project coordinator. The occupants were waiting for us to tell them if their consumption was higher than average, if they had made progress compared with the previous month, using emojis or smileys, for example."

Collective anchoring

HUT will soon enter the second phase of the project. This time, no longer a connected observatory apartment, but the training of a cohort of student volunteers to get involved in research programs. An approach that would be unprecedented in France. " We're going to raise this community of testers, which could number around fifty students, and we're also planning to work with the Crous," explains Anne-Sophie Cases.

An opportunity to explore collective energy management strategies in anticipation of possible load-shedding measures, which are increasingly mentioned by Enedis. " Our hypothesis is that by informing users that a peak is about to occur, some of them collectively agree to unplug because they can, to avoid the unpredictable cut-off imposed on everyone", explains the researcher. A collective dimension that makes it easier to anchor these virtuous behaviors in the long term. "Individual actions are important, but discouraging, whereas a collective approach engages and provides visible effects. It's a fact that energy is a collective issue", concludes Anne-Sophie Cases.


  • Podcast of the show La science s'aMuse recorded with Anne-Sophie Cases on 14/01/2021. A University of Montpellier/Divergence FM coproduction.


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