The Smart Meter Rollout Programme in the UK has required energy suppliers to offer new smart meters to customers to provide near real-time energy use information and enable two-way communication between the meter and the central system. The provision was expected to result in meaningful energy reductions, but recent estimates suggest that these reductions may be as low as 2%. This paper contributes to the ongoing debate about the effectiveness of smart meters and in-home energy displays by providing insights on energy feedback perceptions from a series of focus groups with postgraduate consumers. In addition to domestic energy use, the study investigated how participants perceived their energy use at work and how they perceived the energy reduction efforts of their institutions and employers. A laddered and projective methodology was used to more deeply question participant perceptions and reveal their attitudes. The analysis of responses revealed a limited awareness around energy efficiency strategies and opportunities for more visual, mobile, engaging and target-driven interfaces for energy data. The findings also agree with previous observations that environmental concerns are not a key driver of energy reduction behaviours. This was shown by laddered questioning, not to be due to a lack of environmental concern, but rather the perception that reducing energy consumption would have negligible impact. A decade after in-home energy displays enabled a means of providing ‘visibility’ to ‘invisible’ energy consumption, little appears to have changed in the perception and experience of energy feedback.
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