Real-time, appliance-level electricity use feedback system: How to engage users?

Chen, V.L., Delmas, M.A, Kaiser, W.J.

Engage is a rapidly deployable, retrofit energy monitoring system developed for direct support of a novel energy use behavior investigation and a large-scale deployment in campus apartments. We describe the end-to-end system and report results related to web dashboard engagement during a year-long experiment. The objective was to determine user engagement with real-time and easily accessible information about personal energy consumption. Leveraging low-cost components, this system was designed to measure separately appliance plug load, heating and cooling, and lighting electrical load in dense-occupancy building environments. We developed and used an open source technology for measurement of plug load and developed signal processing algorithms to significantly improve measurement accuracy. We also developed proxy sensors to measure heating and cooling and lighting. Our results indicate that 90% of the dashboard activity was undertaken by 50% of the participants and that website engagement was more likely in mid-day and more effective in combination with email reminders. Energy conservation was achieved when combining the dashboard with public information about energy consumption.

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Published Work | 2014 | Journal of Environmental Economics and Management 70. p. 455-462.

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