Capturing variation in daily energy demand profiles over time with cluster analysis in British homes (September 2019 – August 2022)

Martin Pullinger*, Ellen Zapata-Webborn, Jonathan Kilgour, Simon Elam, Jessica Few, Nigel Goddard, Clare Hanmer, Eoghan McKenna, Tadj Oreszczyn, Lynda Webb

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

This study investigates typical domestic energy demand profiles and their variation over time. It draws on a sample of 13,000 homes from Great Britain, applying k-means cluster analysis to smart meter data on their electricity and gas demand over a three-year period from September 2019 to August 2022. Eight typical demand archetypes are identified from the data, varying in terms of the shape of their demand profile over the course of the day. These include an ‘All daytime’ archetype, where demand rises in the morning and remains high until the evening. Several other archetypes vary in terms of the presence and timing of morning and/or evening peaks. In the case of electricity demand, a ‘Midday trough’ archetype is notable for its negative midday demand and high overnight demand, likely a combination of the effects of rooftop solar panels exporting to the grid during the day and overnight charging of electric vehicles or electric storage heating. The prevalence of each archetype across the sample varies substantially in relation to different temporally-varying factors. Fluctuations in their prevalence on weekends can be identified, as can Christmas Day. Among homes with gas central heating, the prevalence of gas archetypes strongly relates to external temperature, with around half of homes fitting the ‘All daytime’ archetype at temperatures below 0 °C, and few fitting it above 14 °C. COVID-19 pandemic restrictions on work and schooling are associated with households' patterns of daily demand becoming more similar on weekdays and weekends, particularly for households with children and/or workers. The latter group had still not returned to pre-pandemic patterns by March 2022. The results indicate that patterns of daily energy demand vary with factors ranging from societal weekly rhythms and festivals to seasonal temperature changes and system shocks like pandemics, with implications for demand forecasting and policymaking.
Original languageEnglish
Article number122683
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalApplied Energy
Publication statusPublished - 5 Feb 2024


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