Energy information from smart meters and sensors could help people reduce energy use, but this major benefit of the huge infrastructure investments is jeopardized by poorly designed interactions. The problems—dull and complicated information, inappropriate financial incentives, no social context—involve the intersection of human behavior and technology.
In 2010, the U.S. Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy (ARPA-E) charged Stanford University's Precourt Energy Efficiency Center (PEEC) and Human Sciences & Technology Advanced Research Institute (H-STAR) with forging effective ways of integrating behavioral science into smart grid technology in order to achieve meaningful energy savings. The "Sensors & Energy Behavior Initiative" set out to develop a comprehensive, human-centered solution that leverages the widespread diffusion of energy sensors to reduce energy use significantly. The initiative combined known behavioral techniques with human-centered design, computation and technology in the new field of energy behavior.
Additional funding for the Sensors & Energy Behavior Initiative was provided by the California Energy Commission and Stanford University.