On Methods for Privacy-Preserving Energy Disaggregation

Household energy monitoring via smart-meters motivates the problem of disaggregating the total energy usage signal into the component energy usage and operating patterns of individual appliances. While energy disaggregation enables useful analytics, it also raises privacy concerns because sensitive household information may also be revealed. Our goal is to preserve analytical utility while mitigating privacy concerns by processing the total energy usage signal. We consider processing methods that attempt to remove the contribution of a set of sensitive appliances from the total energy signal. We show that while a simple model-based approach is effective against an adversary making the same model assumptions, it is much less effective against a stronger adversary employing neural networks in an inference attack. We also investigate the performance of employing neural networks to estimate and remove the energy usage of sensitive appliances. The experiments used the publicly available UK-DALE dataset that was collected from actual households.