Areas

The research program in BeAware investigates the energy conservation behavior from the users’ perspective, to inform the prototype development as well as to advance the scientific knowledge of the psychological aspects of electricity consumption. A short description of activities is offered below.

Database research

Energy conservation behaviours and feedback

The scientific literature is examined to identify current models of energy consumption behavior and the characteristics of feedback that prove effective to increase energy conservation. The synthesis of 70+ articles (out of an original collection of 731) is integrated with the report of 9 interviews to stakeholders (environmentalist associations, governmental agencies, house appliance producers in Finland and Italy).

ON-LINE RESOURCES: D2.1. CONTACT PERSON: Luciano Gamberini. BEAWARE WORKPLAN: WP 2, Task 2.1.

Saving potential in households: Finland, Italy and Sweden

Report on Finnish/Swedish/Italian electricity consumption. For each country, information is provided on climate, morphology, energy policy, and energy demands; typical household composition and ownership; billing system and meters available to consumers; typical appliances. The report works as a reference for several decisions about the field trials in the project.


Capturing the users’ perspective

The Smart Meter study

The smart meter is probably the most common device to provide feedback about energy consumption in the household. The study analyses the usability of the smart meter installed in Italian households by interviewing consumers who are Italian native speakers, pay their own electricity bill and have no special expertise in engineering or electronics. The results pinpoint some needs for a device providing continuous instantaneous feedback on electricity consumption.
ON-LINE RESOURCES: D.2.2. CONTACT PERSON: Luciano Gamberini. BEAWARE WORKPLAN: WP 2, Task 2.3.

The Appliance Meter study

The study is conducted with 20 Finnish consumers who loaned a meter for household appliances from their energy utility. Different classes of users are defined according to their motivations.

ON-LINE RESOURCES: The study was presented at EEDAL09. CONTACT PERSON: Giulio Jacucci, Lassi Likkanen. BEAWARE WORKPLAN: WP 2, Task 2.3.


Prototype testing

Lab tests

EnergyLife is tested and monitored in several instrumented houses within the project Consortium in Italy, Finland and Sweden before bringing it to trial houses outside the Consortium. Iterative tests with users are performed in order to assess the usability of each new feature of the interface as it is released. The results are reported back to developers.

ON-LINE RESOURCES: The scientific approach followed is described in D2.2 and D2.3. The results of a first run of usability tests are described in a paper (http://www.psychnology.org/File/PNJ7(3)/PSYCHNOLOGY_JOURNAL_7_3_JACUCCI.pdf). CONTACT PERSON: Luciano Gamberini, Giulio Jacucci

Tests in the field

BeAware foresees two round of trials in the field, testing the extent to which its prototypes of mobile and ambient interface are effective and accepted in the real life of selected households in North and South Europe. The first trial is completed and the results are available in D6.2 (http://www.energyawareness.eu/beaware/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/BeAware-D6.2-20101126-v1.0.pdf).

ON-LINE RESOURCES: D6.2 CONTACT PERSON: Giovanni Tusa (for trial organization and general validation process) , Luciano Gamberini (for users’evaluation) BEAWARE WORKPLAN: WP 6, Task 6.2.


Modeling conservation practices

What is waste and to whom?

An on-line survey has been developed and made available on this website (http://www.energyawareness.eu/beaware/research/survey/) to highlight some socio-demographic factors that affect conservation behavior and awareness, and to measure the perception of waste attributed to certain consumption behaviors. The current version of the survey, with more than 1200 respondents so far, was built based on the results of a large paper and pencil survey with 400+ people in Finland and Italy, and of series of pilots in Italy, Sweden and Finland.

ON-LINE RESOURCES: Some results (May 2010) are reported in D2.3 CONTACT PERSON: Luciano Gamberini. BEAWARE WORKPLAN: WP 2, Task 2.4.

Implicit versus explicit measures of conservation practices

Two aspects of conservation behavior are compared, namely the memory of the behavior and the admission of that behavior; the former depends on the actual production of a behavior and is investigated through implicit measures, the latter depends on the desirability of a behavior and is investigated through explicit measures. The goal is to compare these two measurement techniques and identify the desirability of different conservation behaviors.

ON-LINE RESOURCES: Some results are briefly reported in D2.2  CONTACT PERSON: Luciano Gamberini. BEAWARE WORKPLAN: WP 2, Task 2.4.

Changing habits: the role of sustained attention

This line of research investigates a specific cognitive function, sustained attention, in relation to conservation practices. Two studies have been carried out; both emphasize that sustained attention is one important factor at play when habits need to be changed, as is the case when more sustainable routines of energy consumption need to replace poorly sustainable ones. They suggest that people differ in the ability to keep sustained attention and that this affects their ability to switch to more sustainable routines.

ON-LINE RESOURCES: The results are briefly reported in D2.2 (first study) and D2.3 (second study) CONTACT PERSON: Luciano Gamberini. BEAWARE WORKPLAN: WP 2, Task 2.4.

Confidentiality policy

The project consortium has elaborated and undersigned a confidentiality policy document. The policy aims at regulating the collection, storage, treatment and dissemination of personal data that are needed to pursue the project objectives. Each study and data collection carried out in the project adopt an informed consent compliant with this policy.

STATUS: Completed. ON-LINE RESOURCES: Download Policy. BEAWARE WORKPLAN: WP 2, Task 2.5.


Scientific research and prototyping in BeAware

The research carried out in BeAware has informed the development and testing of EnergyLife prototype. The main connections are condensed in the following list:

Research findings… …implementation in EnergyLife
Different types of electricity conservation behavior are enacted and evaluated independently, and not as an expression of a more general attitude towards energy conservation crossing all behaviors and situations. (from aIAT experiments) EnergyLife provides feedback and advice about the usage of individual devices, since each device is likely to have its own set of usage practices and related motivations
Sustained attention can play a role in habits change, and then in adopting more sustainable electricity consumption routines in the house (from PASAT studies) EnergyLife provides several solutions to draw the users’ attention and keep motivation high: daily actionable advices, quizzes and a game rationale
Individual consumption behaviors are well justified by family routines (from family interviews) EnergyLife takes into account and shows both the overall household and the individual performances.
Consumers’ knowledge of electricity conservation practices is often poor (Exploratory and On-Line Surveys) EnergyLife provides tips on the way to conserve electricity to fill the gap the users’ knowledge.
The electricity consumption feedback currently available in consumer’s houses (smart meter) lacks usability in its language and offers poor support to specific consumption actions. (from Smart Meter Study) The language of EnergyLife is close to the everyday language of the users; the information provided in the application is created to support the users’ everyday usage of the devices; the application is tested for its usability during the entire course of its development and refinement
Literature review highlights that feedback is more effective when prolonged, continuous, historical, tailored, computerized, and associated with strategies through which users make a clear commitment. Money as a feedback has poor long-term effects.), (D2.1) The requirements extracted from the literature are translated into design features of EnergyLife.
Research output… trials
Information about electricity production, usage, billing and metering in Italy, Sweden and Finland collected by ENELsì and Vattenfal Identification of consumers’ categories that have a high saving potential for trials
The aIAT study showed that implicit and explicit (self-reported) techniques achieve different results (from aIAT experiments) Both behavioral (automatic log of users’ consumption activity, and application usage) and self-reported data are collected, in order to analyze both the actual energy usage and the users’ perception of it e
Confidentiality policy (available on-line at: www.energyawarness.eu) Deployment of privacy requirements and informed consents e
Requirements for the application and usability tests on first prototypes Validation metrics and procedure