Energy Disaggregation and the Utility-Privacy Tradeoff

Roy Dong, Lillian J. Ratliff

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The problem of energy disaggregation is the estimation of individual device usage patterns from available aggregate energy consumption measurements. In this work, we consider the fundamental limits of the energy disaggregation problem, and use these limits to quantify the tradeoff between the utilization of data for smart grid operations and the privacy provided to energy consumers. First, our fundamental limits build on a statistical testing framework to provide a theoretical bound to the accuracy of energy disaggregation that can be achieved by any algorithm. Then, we present a framework for understanding how variations in system design can affect the operational benefits of collecting data, as well as the privacy of users. We instantiate this framework in a direct load control example where we use thermostatically controlled loads and vary the frequency with which a centralized controller receives sensor measurements. Our work formalizes the process of incorporating privacy considerations into the design of modern energy systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationBig Data Application in Power Systems
Number of pages36
ISBN (Electronic)9780128119693
ISBN (Print)9780128119686
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Direct load control
  • Energy disaggregation
  • Estimation
  • Fundamental limits
  • Privacy metrics
  • Utility-privacy tradeoff

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Energy(all)

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