Life is messy - analysing household activity data to understand electricity use patterns

Research Software Developers Network
October 18, 2017 - 10:00 to 11:00
Conference Room (278)

Oxford e-Research Centre, 7 Keble Road, OX1 3QG

  • Seminar
  • Open to all

Dr Phil Grunewald and Dr Marina Diakonova from the Environmental Change Institute will give an update on the Energy Demand Modelling METER project (Measuring and Evaluating Time- and Energy-use Relationships).



This event is one of the Research Software Developers' Network open meetings, aimed at software developers working in the University.

This 5 year EPSRC fellowship project will use smart phone technology to collect activity information from UK households. In combination with electricity use profiles these data will give us a new perspective of what we use electricity for. METER addresses the research question: “What is the temporal relationship between electricity consumption and household activities?”. To date this relationship is still poorly understood. METER will address this gap by collecting electricity consumption data in parallel with time-use information using adapted smart phone technology.


Life is messy - analysing household activity data to understand electricity use patterns

Balancing electricity supply with demand becomes more difficult in future systems with greater shares of renewables.

Oxford leads the first study of its kind to understand household electricity use patterns and potential areas of flexibility. Participants use a custom app to report activities and we measure their electricity use with one second resolution.

Long held beliefs that energy use could simply be inferred from activities prove to be ill founded. The relationships are more complicated and we are now able to use better tools, including regression models, sequence analysis and clustering, to make sense of this rich source of data from

We will present the data collection process, the data itself and opportunities for further analysis.

About the speakers

Phil holds a fellowship from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to develop our understanding of household electricity use. In the past Phil has modelled future energy systems to establish what role storage could play. This work led to the realisation that we need a better understanding of flexibility in electricity systems more generally and on the demand side in particular.

Marina is a physicist with a PhD in statistical analysis from the University of Warwick. She joined the Meter project in November 2016 and develops visualisations and analytical tools that will help us to better understand the complex relationships between activities and electricity use.

About the Research Software Developers Network

The Oxford e-Research Centre, the Computer Science department, the Bodleian Libraries, Advanced Research Computing, and Digital.Humanities@Oxford have set up a University-wide network of Research Software Developers (RSDs): those who combine expertise in programming and/or data development with an intricate understanding of research, and who support the work of researchers in developing or customising the software that is fundamental to so much of modern research. The RSDN website provides a central support for the network: a register of RSDs and their expertise, combined with a community forum and virtual employment exchange to facilitate discussion of project ideas, and linking RSDs with research needing their skills. The network currently has over 300 members across the University.