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Using data to understand our changing use of electricity in the home

The current lockdown has resulted in changes in domestic electricity use as more of us work from home.

With many people no longer commuting to the office – giving them longer to stay in bed before getting ready for work – morning peaks in usage are happening later, while energy use at lunchtime is reported to have increased by up to 30%, when cooking is added to the power consumption of working from home.

Scientists at the University of Oxford running the national research project METER (Measuring and Evaluating Time-use and Electricity-use Relationships) are currently measuring these shifts in usage as part of an on-going study that started in 2016 to understand what we use electricity for.

“If we can understand the trends, we can accelerate the transition to a clean energy future,” said Phil Grunewald, the energy scientist leading the project.

While data from the lockdown period has yet to be published, the latest available data from METER can now be accessed through the UK Data Service.

METER combines high-resolution household electricity readings with simultaneous activity records of household members, to provide a platform for new analytical insights. This data deposit was recorded from February 2016 to January 2019 and includes 264 electricity records (28 hours each) with 16,378 coded activities from 529 people.

The data includes a detailed understanding of socio-technical drivers behind:

  • high and low electrical consumption
  • high peak time consumption
  • ability to respond to the load shifting interventions
  • impact of interventions on individuals
  • trends in electricity user over time and in response to the adoption of new technologies and social practices

The METER data is safeguarded and requires users to register and authenticate with the UK Data Service before they are able to access it.