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How Viable are Energy Savings in Smart Homes?: A Call to Embrace Rebound Effects in Sustainable HCI

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  • Christina Bremer
  • Harshit Gujral
  • Michelle Lin
  • Lily Hinkers
  • Christoph Becker
  • Vlad Constantin Coroamă
Article number5
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>22/09/2023
<mark>Journal</mark>ACM Journal on Computing and Sustainable Societies
Issue number1
Number of pages24
Pages (from-to)1-24
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date1/08/23
<mark>Original language</mark>English


As part of global climate action, digital technologies are seen as a key enabler of energy efficiency savings. A popular application domain for this work is smart homes. There is a risk, however, that these efficiency gains result in rebound effects, which reduce or even overcompensate the savings. Rebound effects are well-established in economics, but it is less clear whether they also inform smart energy research in other disciplines. In this paper, we ask: to what extent have rebound effects and their underlying mechanisms been considered in computing, HCI and smart home research? To answer this, we conducted a literature mapping drawing on four scientific databases and a SIGCHI corpus. Our results reveal limited consideration of rebound effects and significant opportunities for HCI to advance this topic. We conclude with a taxonomy of actions for HCI to address rebound effects and help determine the viability of energy efficiency projects.