Pilot users and their families - inventing flexible practices in the smart grid

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    Households are increasingly the centre of attention in smart grid experiments, where they are dominantly framed in a role as ‘flexible consumers’ of electricity. This paper reports from the Danish smart grid demonstration project eFlex, which aimed to investigate the ‘flexibility potential’ of households, and it shows how householders are far from just ‘consumers’ in the system. Drawing on empirical material from ethnographic fieldwork in 49 households that tested smart grid equipment, the paper firstly demonstrates how eFlex users were also creative innovators. Secondly, by integrating user innovation literature, domestication theory and practice theory, the paper moreover illustrates how the eFlex equipment interacted with a variety of collectively shared everyday practices in the household and argues that this unique family context accordingly had implications for the ‘innovative capacity’ of these pioneer users. The paper thus calls for smart grid stakeholders to begin taking the ‘innovator role’ of smart home users seriously, but equally calls for a more contextual and situated perspective when involving innovative users – their families have an equal part to play in the development of the smart grid.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalScience & Technology Studies
    Issue number3
    Pages (from-to)54-80
    Publication statusPublished - 2015


    • User innovation
    • Family context
    • Smart grid


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