Energy Consumption Feedback Visualization for Increased Awareness

Nima Marashi

AbstractThe objective of this thesis is to investigate how energy consumption can be translated into persuasive feedback visualizations, with the purpose of increasing awareness among consumers, and developing pro-environmental behavior. A part of this objective is also to investigate if and how the system can use ambient visualization to provoke pro-environmental behavior, as well as to lower consumption during peak-load hours. Finally, the aim is to evaluate the efficiency of the system by conducting experiments on actual households.
In this thesis, the characteristics and nature of eco-feedback systems, which have the purpose of changing consumers' behavior into pro-environmentalism through feedback, is briey explained. Also, some of the related work that have, in one way or another, been influential to the work in this thesis, are highlighted. In order to identify the requirements for an eco-feedback system in general, the relevant literature in the fields of HCI, and behavioral and environmental psychology have been analyzed. The requirements are then used in a design for a new eco-feedback system called enPower. The design is also influenced by the field of persuasive computing, and incorporates aspects from there, which makes the system more persuasive in exerting behavior change in its users. Also included in the design, is a physical, ambient consumption indication device, the Light Sphere.
Finally, the enPower eco-feedback system, along with the Light Sphere, is implemented in a high-delity prototype.
Two experiments, related to the objectives of the thesis, are conducted. The Ambient Eco-feedback experiment aims at cutting peak-levels by using a lamp (the Light Sphere) that gives feedback through ambient light. This experiment showed a decrease of 39% in the peak-load hour, and 25.7% decrease in the overall consumption. However, there is reason to believe that the feedback was wrongfully perceived as real-time, which questions the validity of the result.
The purpose of the second experiment was to investigate if the enPower webapp prototype could make a test-group aware of their electricity consumption with decreased consumption levels as result. A group of 9 households received daily consumption status reports, and had access to the eco-feedback web-app. Through the duration of the experiment a consumption decrease of 12.7% was detected compared to the same period in the preceding year (6.4% if bias corrected). The test-group's consumption during the experiment was also compared to a control group consisting of nearly 2,500 households. Here, the test-group used 7.0% less electricity than the control-group.
There are slight indications that feedback, both through ambient and attention demanding visualization, provokes pro-environmental behavior on Danish households from Funen by lowering peak-levels and generally decreasing the use of electricity. However, there is a need for additional experiments that account for the scientific pitfalls and statistical errors related to eco-feedback experiment.
TypeMaster's thesis [Academic thesis]
Year2013
PublisherTechnical University of Denmark, Department of Applied Mathematics and Computer Science / DTU Co
AddressMatematiktorvet, Building 303B, DK-2800 Kgs. Lyngby, Denmark, compute@compute.dtu.dk
SeriesM.Sc.-2013-100
NoteDTU supervisor: Jacob Eg Larsen, jaeg@dtu.dk, DTU Compute
Electronic version(s)[pdf]
Publication linkhttp://www.compute.dtu.dk/English.aspx
BibTeX data [bibtex]
IMM Group(s)Intelligent Signal Processing


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