DS 83: Proceedings of the 18th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education (E&PDE16), Design Education: Collaboration and Cross-Disciplinarity, Aalborg, Denmark, 8th-9th September 2016

Year: 2016
Editor: Erik Bohemia, Ahmed Kovacevic, Lyndon Buck, Christian Tollestrup, Kaare Eriksen, Nis Ovesen
Author: Whittet, Craig; Taylor, Andrea; Walker, Guy; Galloway, Stuart; Stephen, Bruce; Docherty, Catherine; Lynn, Craig; Owens, Edward; Danson, Michael
Series: E&PDE
Institution: 1Glasgow School of Art, UK, 2HERIOT Watt University, UK, 3Strathclyde University, UK
Section: Responding to Social Issues
Page(s): 008-014
ISBN: 978-1-904670-62-9


Fuel poverty is a critical issue for a globally ageing population. Increasing heating/cooling
requirements combined with declining incomes has resulted in a global challenge that requires urgent
attention. Three Scottish Universities/College collaborated on a user centred and user led concept
development process that focused on empowering elderly users to take steps to make their energy
usage more cost effective and efficient. This study starts by analysing a cross section of home energy
products and then develops and evaluates concepts with a range of stakeholders, including housing
associations. The study benefited from Research Teaching linkages/projects across undergraduate and
postgraduate levels. From the initial research, it was concluded that there are serious usability issues
with existing products. These failings prevent the products from being successful within the chosen
demographic and ironically add to the energy challenge. Design concepts were developed by academic
(teaching and research) staff from a diversity of backgrounds including: Electronic and Electrical
Engineering, Interaction Design, Product Design Engineering, Psychology, Ergonomics and Social
Sciences. The concept and design development benefited from engagement with the target audience
and the paper will present the findings of this engagement. Key evaluation targets for the concepts
were based on user insights, including: user-friendly interface; informative displays; ease of
implementation and understanding of data. Concepts also had to fundamentally gain the confidence of
the demographic through demonstrating how one could reduce energy consumption, therefore
reducing fuel poverty. This step change in the acceptance would be a critical driver during the
development of the concepts.

Keywords: Design-led approaches, energy saving technology, older people.


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