It’s easy for the smart home to go overboard with devices. There seems to be no cap on the number, with one smart hub vendor announcing their product can handle up to 1,000 devices! But adding more devices does not meet the key consumer challenge, expectations. When a consumer has used Uber, Airbnb and Amazon, they have little patience for anything but a smooth experience.

Researchers have defined the phrase, Liquid Expectations, for this phenomena, when consumers transfer their sense of what should happen from one digital experience to another: “If I can get a ride, and pay for it seamlessly, with Uber, why is it that when I use smart home devices – which are supposed to save me money – I don’t know the answer and my utility bill arrives weeks later?”(1)

Too often smart home energy solutions speak to consumers in units without context (eg kWh, run times, leafs) and with a long delay between usage and reporting. The most frequent consumer-utility interaction is when the resident studies the monthly bill and then pays it. Sadly this is about 3 to 4 weeks after the energy has been used. Not quite the Uber experience…

Here are three ways the smart home can meet the challenge of Liquid Expectations:

  1. Meet the consumer where they are. It is safe to assume that more consumers buy smart home devices than review detailed usage data on their utility’s website. So bring the data to the consumer, to the device app! Integrate total utility bill cost into savings and controls for smart lights and smart thermostats.
  2. Instant personalization and insights. To keep engagement high, set expectations from the start: Our app is where you get instant answers, updated regularly, about your home energy use, your smart home devices and your utility bills. Capture interest when it is high, keep it fresh to maintain engagement.
  3. Meaningful numbers. You have probably noticed that we keep referring to utility bills. Well consumers do too. Why not transfer an existing moment of engagement, studying their utility bill each month, to your smart home product? There will be more interest in that $20 change in the utility bill than in a 14% reduction in furnace runtimes. Speak to the consumer with meaningful content in the language they understand.


(1) Liquid Expectations is an expression introduced by the Fjord design group at Accenture. For more info see and