Social impacts and control in the smart home

The smart home technology industry promises energy savings and lifestyle improvements. However, there is little evidence that smart home technologies will reduce home energy use overall, and there are a range of emerging detrimental social impacts that require further attention from researchers, policymakers and practitioners.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.


  1. 1.

    Energy 2020 - A Strategy For Competitive, Sustainable And Secure Energy (European Commission, 2010).

  2. 2.

    Bernheim Brush, A. J. et al. Home automation in the wild: challenges and opportunities. In Proc. SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems 2115–2124 (ACM, 2011).

  3. 3.

    D’Arcy, J. TechKnow: Get smart to turn on the aircon and check the power usage. The Sydney Morning Herald (14 September 2015).

  4. 4.

    Strengers, Y., Pink, S. & Nicholls, L. Energy Res. Soc. Sci. 48, 108–115 (2019).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Hargreaves, W., Wilson, C. & Hauxwell-Baldwin, R. Build. Res. Inf. 46, 127–139 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    The Strategic Energy Technology (SET) Plan (European Commission, 2017).

  7. 7.

    Nicholls, L., Strengers, Y. & Tirado, S. Smart Home Control: Exploring the Potential for Off-The-Shelf Enabling Technologies in Energy Vulnerable and Other Households (RMIT University, 2017).

  8. 8.

    Tuohy, J. What can I do with home automation? Network World (2015).

  9. 9.

    Tuohy, J. What is home automation and how do I get started? Network World (2015).

  10. 10.

    Strengers, Y. & Nicholls, L. Media Int. Aust. 166, 70–80 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Strengers, Y. Smart Energy Technologies in Everyday Life Smart Utopia? (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013).

  12. 12.

    Strengers, Y., Kennedy, J., Arcari, P., Nicholls, L. & Gregg, M. Protection, productivity and pleasure in the smart home: emerging expectations and gendered insights from Australian early adopters. In Proc. 2019 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems 1–13 (ACM, 2019).

  13. 13.

    Hargreaves, T. & Middlemiss, L. Nat. Energy (2020).

  14. 14.

    I’d Blush If I Could: Closing Gender Divides in Digital Skills Through Education (UNESCO for the EQUALS Skills Coalition, 2019).

  15. 15.

    Lopez-Neira, I., Patel, T., Parkin, S., Danezis, G. & Tanczer, L. The Domestic Abuse Quarterly 63, 22–26 (2019).

    Google Scholar 

  16. 16.

    Tech Abuse: Smart Internet-Connected Devices Present New Risks for Victims of Domestic Violence & Abuse (UCL Public Policy, 2018).

  17. 17.

    Phair, N. Smart Meters: What Does A Connected House Really Mean? (University of Canberra, 2017).

  18. 18.

    Strengers, Y., Hazas, M., Nicholls, L., Kjeldskov, J. & Skov, M. B. Int. J. Hum-Comput. St. (2020).

  19. 19.

    Maalsen, S. & Sadowski, J. Surveill. Soc. 17, 118–124 (2019).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. 20.

    Keep your family on schedule with smart lighting. UKnowKids (2015).

  21. 21.

    Boehnert, J. & Mair, S. Techno-fix futures will only accelerate climate chaos – don’t believe the hype. The Conversation (2019).

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Larissa Nicholls.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Nicholls, L., Strengers, Y. & Sadowski, J. Social impacts and control in the smart home. Nat Energy 5, 180–182 (2020).

Download citation

Further reading


Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing