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A smart home for energy saving, security, technology enthusiasm or for consumerism? A motive-based typology of users in Germany

Smart homes offer the possibility of saving energy and resources through automated heating control, and thereby may allow individuals to live more sustainably. In addition, smart homes can also be designed to increase living comfort, entertainment and security. How important are ecological energy-saving motives for smart home users compared to other consumption motives? What user types can be identified an do they differ in terms of their energy-saving behaviour?

By means of an online survey with smart home users that have installed a smart heating system (N = 375), four motives for using the smart home were identified. Based on these motives of energy saving, consumerism, enthusiasm for technology and security, four smart home user types were then formed using a cluster analysis. In addition to two very small clusters, two large clusters were formed (pragmatics N = 120, enthusiasts, N = 180), both of which had a strong energy saving motive, security motive and enthusiasm for technology, while the enthusiasts also reported a high consumerism motive. User types with a high energy saving motive reported increased energy saving behaviour, while user types with a higher consumerism motive reported a higher heating temperature.

The variety of motives indicates that smart homes are not only used to save energy but also to satisfy other consumer needs. The ecological advantages of energy management could therefore be neutralized by increased electrification of households. Despite their motive to save energy, smart home users may even consume more resources overall.

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