Digital sustainability for energy-efficient behaviours: a user representation and touchpoint model

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McCarthy, Stephen
Ertiö, Titiana
Fitzgerald, Ciara
Kahma, Nina
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In response to climate change, nations have been tasked with reducing energy consumption and lessening their carbon footprint through targeted actions. While digital technologies can support this goal, our understanding of energy practices in a private household context remains nascent. This challenge is amplified by the ‘invisible’ nature of users’ interaction with energy systems and the impact of unconscious habits. Our objective is to explore how touchpoints embedded in digital sustainability platforms shape energy-efficiency behaviours among users. Building on data from semi-structured interviews and a two-hour co-creation workshop with 25 energy experts in the ECO2 project, we first identify three user representations of relevance to such platforms: energy-unaware, living in denial, and energy-aware and active. Our findings suggest that ‘static’ user representations (based on user demographics and average consumption) are giving way to socio-cognitive representations that follow users’ journeys in energy efficiency. We then develop a set of design principles to promote sustainable energy behaviours through digital sustainability platforms across user-owned, social/external, brand-owned, and partner-owned touchpoints. An analysis of user feedback from the ECO2 project shows support for our design principles across users’ journeys. Of 62 respondents covering all three representations, 76% of them intended to “implement changes in terms of energy consumption and energy efficiency”.
Digital sustainability , Energy efficiency , Multimethod study , Green IS , User journeys , Touchpoints , User representations
McCarthy, S., Ertiö, T., Fitzgerald, C. and Kahma, N. (2024) ‘Digital sustainability for energy-efficient behaviours: a user representation and touchpoint model’, Information Systems Frontiers, Available at:
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