Robotic vacuum cleaners save energy? raising cleanliness conventions and energy demand in Australian households with smart home technologies

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9 Citations (Scopus)


The ‘digital revolution’ of household life is underway, with technologies such as robotic vacuum cleaners (robovacs) increasingly common. Various other automated appliances are emerging and being adopted in pursuit of the 'smart home’. Current discourses include assumptions and explicit claims that smart homes will be energy efficient and therefore more environmentally sustainable. However, smart home technologies are also presented as affording lifestyle enhancements in the areas of comfort, cleanliness, convenience, entertainment and security. Focusing specifically on one smart device – the robovac – this paper aims to demonstrate how visions of cleanliness in the smart home could be counterproductive to energy reductions and household wellbeing. We draw on a content analysis of smart home marketing and articles, and conversational interviews (involving home tours) with early adopters of robovacs and smart home technologies in Australia. We find that these devices may escalate conventions of cleanliness in the home and invite supplementary energy consumption. The paper concludes by providing suggestions for how energy stakeholders can respond.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-81
Number of pages9
JournalEnergy Research & Social Science
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Cleaning
  • Consumption
  • Digital homes
  • Energy efficiency
  • Home automation
  • Household practices
  • Smart home technologies
  • Smart homes
  • Social practices
  • Sustainability

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