TANG, T. and BHAMRA, T.A., 2009. Improving energy efficiency of product use: an exploration of environmental impacts of household cold appliance usage patterns. 5th International Conference on Energy Efficiency in Domestic Appliances and Lighting (EEDAL’09), Berlin, Germany, 16th–18th June.
This report presents the findings from a qualitative study investigating how product design can be
used to change consumer behaviour to reduce the household energy consumption. A fundamental
aspect of this aim is to fill the gap in existing research by understanding the product use behaviour
and its impacts on the environment. Household cold appliances were chosen as a case to explore the
capacity of designer-conducted user studies to identify unsustainable aspects of product use. Usercentred
research techniques [1, 2] including questionnaires, semi-structured interview and Product-in-
Use observations were used to collect information about the “actual” and “assumed” needs, the
diversity in use context, the unsustainable and sustainable use patterns and the hidden factors behind
the usage. Eighteen British families were involved in this qualitative study. This paper presents the
methods and process for extracting design oriented information from the behaviour study in the early
phases of energy efficient products development. It concludes that usage patterns study can offer
resources to assist manufacturers and designers minimise environmental impacts product use. Also it
discusses the implications for the future design of household cold appliances.