Dr Sarah Darby
Position:Senior Researcher and deputy leader, Lower Carbon Futures group
Member:ECI Energy Research Theme
Sarah's research interests centre on social learning about energy and environment, on how technologies are adopted and adapted, and on evaluation of complex socio-technical innovations. She is increasingly involved in analysing the interactions between energy infrastructures (especially 'smart grids'), the rules and knowledge systems through which they operate, and the everyday practices of energy users. She is deputy leader of the Lower Carbon Futures programme, and contributes to teaching on the Environmental Change and Management MSc course.
Sarah holds a BSc in Ecological Science from Edinburgh University and a DPhil from Oxford (Awareness, action and feedback in domestic energy use). Previous work includes community development work in Kenya and seven years as a trustee of Oxfam (UK and Ireland). In 2011-12, she was a visiting lecturer in the Department of Thematic Studies (Technology and Social Change), Linkoping University, Sweden.
Sarah’s research interests centre on social learning about energy and environment, and on how technologies are adopted and adapted. She is increasingly involved in analysing the interactions between new energy infrastructures (especially ‘smart grids’), the rules and knowledge systems through which they operate, and the everyday practices of energy users.
Smart Meters Early Learning Synthesis (PI). An analysis of consumer benefits in relation to smart meter rollout, especially energy savings; identification of what is likely to be effective in increasing benefits during mass rollout in Great Britain; development of a systematic, theory-informed means of evaluation. For the Department of Energy and Climate Change, with partners in the University of Ulster and the Tavistock Institute. Sept 2013-June 2015
NERC, NE/G007748/1. (PI) Synthesis of work on UK Energy Research Centre Demand Theme during UKERC phase 2. Autumn/winter 2013/14
UserTEC (User Practices, Technologies and Residential Energy Consumption) (Co-I). A multidisciplinary research project to improve understanding of user practices and interaction with new technologies. The project is led by the University of Aalborg and funded by the Danish Council for Strategic Research, with partners at the Universities of Cambridge and Linkoping, Delft Technical University and the Technical University of Denmark. Mar 2013-Mar 2018.
ESRC, ES/I006664/1. EVALOC (evaluation of the impacts, effectiveness and success of low carbon communities) (Co-I). Takes an action research approach, working with six communities in England and Wales to monitor, model and map the impacts of retrofit and social initiatives on energy consumption. Also developing and testing 'toolkits' for monitoring, evaluation and communication. With Oxford Brookes University. Jan 2011 - Jun 2014.
EPSRC, EP/I000194/1. ADEPT (Advanced Dynamic Energy Pricing and Tariffs) (Co-I). Addresses the question of how complicated a dynamic electricity tariff should be in order to meet system and social requirements. With the Oxford e-Research Centre and Brunel University. Oct 2010 - Sept 2013.
Advisory and Review
2011 Energy advisory panel, Which? magazine
2011 Social science advisory group, ‘Customer-led Network Revolution’, (Low Carbon Networks Fund project), Durham Energy Institute
2011 Advisory group, ‘The Role of Community–based Initiatives in Energy Saving’, Southampton University
2006-2010 External evaluation team member for the UK Energy Demand Research Project (EDRP), a set of trials of domestic smart meters and associated interventions
Sarah has reviewed for a wide range of journals and organisations, including Energy Policy, Building Research and Information, Energy Efficiency, Climate Policy, Energy Economics, Environmental Science and Policy, Energy and Buildings, Environment and Planning (A and C), Environmental Politics, IEEE Transactions on Smart Grid, Intelligent Buildings International, Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of Environmental Psychology, The Energy Journal, Transactions of IEEE Power & Energy, Time and Society, Applied Energy, Umweltpsychologie, UK Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, National Science Foundation (USA), American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, Electric Power Research Institute (USA), and the Brattle Group.
She is a member of the peer review college, Economic and Social Research Council.
- Butler, C., Darby, S., Henfrey, T., Hoggett, R. and Hole, N. (2013) People and Communities in Energy Security. In, Mitchell, C., Watson, J. and Whiting, J. (eds.) New Challenges in Energy Security: The UK in a Multipolar World. Palgrave, London.
- Darby, S.J. (2013) The role of smart meters in carbon management. Carbon Management, 4(2): 111-113. Editorial.
- Darby, S.J. and Pisica, I. (2013) Focus on electricity tariffs: experience and exploration of different charging schemes.. European Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy summer study, Hyères, June 3-7, 2013. Paper 8-318-13.
- Darby, S.J., Strömbäck, J. and Wilks, M. (2013) Potential carbon impacts of smart grid development in six European countries. Energy Efficiency.
- Darby, S. (2012) Load management at home: advantages and drawbacks of some 'active demand side' options. Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part A: Journal of Power and Energy, 227(1): 9-17.
- Darby, S.J. (2012) Metering: EU policy and implications for fuel poor households. Energy Policy, 49: 98-106.
- Darby, S.J. and McKenna, E. (2012) Social implications of residential demand response in cool temperate climates. Energy Policy, 49: 759-769.
- Mayne, R., Darby, S. and Hamilton, J. (2012) A literature review for the EVALOC project: Individual and Social Influences on Energy Use. EVALOC. Working Paper.
- Darby, S. (2011) Load management at home: advantages and drawbacks of some 'active demand side' options.. Proceedings, 2nd International Conference in Microgeneration and Related Technologies in Buildings, Microgen '11', University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, April 4-6.
- Darby, S. (2011) The 'time' dimension of electricity, options for the householder and implications for policy.. Proceedings, World Renewable Energy Congress, Linköping, Sweden, May 8-11.
- Darby, S., Anderson, W. and White, V. (2011) Large-scale testing of new technology: some lessons from the UK smart metering and feedback trials.. Proceedings, European Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, Summer Study Paper 7-524.
- Gupta, R. and Darby, S. (2011) Action research approach for gaining, and providing, feedback on domestic energy use to understand occupant behaviour, perceptions and expectations., Oxford, UK. Paper presented at Energy and People: Futures, complexity and challenges, 21-22 September, 2011.
- Novikova, A., Amecke, H., Neuhoff, K., Stelmakh, K., Kiss, B., Rohde, C., Dunkelberg, E., Weiss, J., Matscoss, K. and Darby, S. (2011) Information tools for energy demand reduction in existing residential buildings. CPI Report. Climate Policy Initiative.
- Pyrko, J. and Darby, S. (2011) Conditions of energy efficient behaviour - a comparative study between Sweden and the UK. Energy Efficiency, 4(3): 393-408.
- Darby, S. (2010) Communicating energy demand: measurement, display and the language of things. In, Whitmarsh, L., O'Neill, S. and Lorenzoni, I. (eds.) Engaging the Public with Climate Change: Behaviour Change and Communication. Earthscan. 288 pp. ISBN: 9781844079285.
- Darby, S. (2010) Literature review for the energy demand research project. Ofgem (Office of Gas and Electricity Markets), London.
- Darby, S. (2010) Smart metering: what potential for householder engagement? Building Research and Information, 38(5): 442-457.
- Darby, S. (2009) Conditions of behavioural changes towards efficient energy use - a comparative study between Sweden and the UK..
- Darby, S. (2009) Implementing Article 13 of the Energy Services Directive and defining the purpose of new metering infrastructures. Proceedings of the European Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy Summer Study. Paper(2262).
- Darby, S. (2009) Literature review: real-time energy display functionality. Appendix 3 in Anderson, W. and White, V. Exploring the functionality of real-time home energy displays. Report to the Energy Saving Trust. Centre for Sustainable Energy, Bristol, UK.
- Parag, Y. and Darby, S. (2009) Consumer-supplier-government triangular relations: rethinking the UK policy path for carbon emissions reduction from the UK residential sector. Energy Policy, 37(10): 3984-3992.
- Darby, S. (2008) Energy feed back in buildings: improving the infrastructure for demand reduction. Building Research and Information, 36(5): 499-508.
- Darby, S. (2008) Why, What, When, How, Where and Who? Developing UK Policy on Metering, Billing and Energy Display Devices Why Develop Energy Feedback and Smart Metering? Buildings: 70-81.
- Darby, S. (2007) Enough is as good as a feast - Sufficiency as a policy.. Proceedings, European Council for an Energy Efficient Economy Summer Study, 4-9 June 2007. pp. 111-120(10). ISBN: 9789163308994.
- Darby, S. (2006) Social learning and public policy: lessons from an energy-conscious village. Energy Policy, 34(17): 2929-2940.
- Darby, S. (2006) The effectiveness of feedback on energy consumption. A review for DEFRA of the literature on metering, billing and direct displays..
- Palmer, J, Boardman, B., Bottrill, C., Darby, S., Hinnells, M., Killip, G., Layberry, R. and Lovell, H. (2006) Reducing the environmental impact of housing. Final Report, Consultancy study in support of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollutions 26th Report on the Urban Environment..
- Darby, S. (2005) Learning about energy - how will low-impact energy use become a way of life.. Proceedings of the European Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (eceee) 2005 Summer Study - What works & who delivers?, 30 May - 4 June 2005. pp. 1335-1342(7). ISBN: 9163140020.
- Darby, S. (2003) Making sense of energy advice.. Proceedings, European Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy Summer Study, paper 6,157.
- Boardman, B. and Darby, S. (2000) Effective Advice: energy efficiency and the disadvantaged. Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford, UK.
- Darby, S. (2000) Making it obvious: designing feedback into energy consumption.. Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Energy Efficiency in Household Appliances and Lighting. Italian Association of Energy Economists / EC-SAVE programme.
- Darby, S. (1999) Energy advice - what is it worth?. Proceedings of the European Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy Summer Study.
- Green, J., Darby, S., Maby, C. and Boardman, B. (1998) Advice into action An evaluation of the effectiveness of energy advice to low income households. Keswick (United Kingdom): Eaga Charitable Trust.
Recent invited presentations
Demand response: options for residential users and potential carbon and energy benefits for EU. Annual 'Norwegian energy days' conference, Oslo, Oct 17-18 2013
Evidence on smart meter rollout to House of Commons Select Committee on Energy and Climate Change, May 14th 2013
Persuasive energy infrastructures: hardware, software and practices. Opening of project on the effectiveness and acceptability of persuasive technology for household energy saving, Eindhoven University of Technology. April 25th 2013
The current state of smart metering rollout in the UK. Westminster Energy and Environment Forum on Smart metering in the UK - consumer engagement, privacy and moving towards the 'mass rollout'. April 23rd 2013
Smart meter rollout: outlook and progress to date. Westminster Energy, Environment & Transport Forum: Smart metering rollout: next steps for delivery. London, October 18th 2012
The UK Energy Demand Research Project - process and findings. Seminar, Finnish Association for Energy Economics. Helsinki, September 19th 2012
Energy in time. International seminar on 'Energy efficiency interventions, technologies and practices in the home', University of Birmingham, June 7th 2012
Utility metering and controls: what is changing, and why? Ethics Special Interest Group of the British Computer Society, London, March 19th 2012
Social aspects of smart grids. European workshop on policy, regulatory and social aspects of smart meters and applications. Organised by the Science and Innovation Network of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office / UK Energy Research Centre. London, December 14th 2011