Print Email Facebook Twitter Making the leap from awareness to action: The EnergyMentor Title Making the leap from awareness to action: The EnergyMentor Author Papantoniou, L. Contributor De Jong, A. (mentor) Crul, M. (mentor) Faculty Industrial Design Engineering Department Design Engineering Date 2009-12-09 Abstract Climate change is already happening and represents one of the greatest environmental, social and economic threats facing the planet. The warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global mean sea level. To stop climate change, scientists have set as an upper safe limit for atmospheric CO2 that of 350ppm (parts per million C02). In other words, the level to which we need to reduce the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere if we want to avoid the catastrophic climate effects. The bad news is that the atmospheric carbon has already reached 383ppm, and shows an increasing rate. Hence, instant action is required. Carbon-neutral prosperity is possible, but requires bold actions from all. A good start to do so can be from our own homes. Residential energy consumption is the second most rapidly growing area of global energy use after transport, contributing to total energy use generally between 15% and 20%. The adopted policies and measures to cut back greenhouse gasses attributed to households, aim to do so mainly by: increasing the use of renewable energy (solar, wind, biomass, geothermal) or by improving the energy efficiency of houses and households. The latter, is the focus of this project. If we want to improve the energy efficiency of households we have to deal also with the consumer’s behaviour as a significant determinant on the household’s environmental impact. To address this issue better, a qualitative research was carried out, with eight households in the city of Delft. By applying conventional ethnographic methods such as interviews, observations, probes and focus groups, the research aimed to understand people better, come closer and engage them during the whole process. A pilot study, pinpointed the need to bring the consumers closer to their daily practices, give them insights on their effects and help them develop a mental model about energy. To look for possible solutions, a follow up study was carried out, providing energy meters to the participants and probing them to interact with the meters and with their neighbors/participants. The study resulted to three key insights for changing energy consumption: Transparency, Feel in Control and Collaboration. The first is well addressed by smart meters, which transform energy from invisible to transparent, raising general awareness to people. However, what do people do, after they get aware of their energy consumption is often overlooked. During the user studies with the energy meter, participants’ interest faded after 2-3 weeks. Although they were might still checking the energy meter, they did not find the indications competent enough. What they needed was to feel more powerful and certain about the choices they make and the actions they take to reduce their environmental footprint in daily life. They needed to feel more in control of their energy usage. Furthermore, discussing about their experiences, comparing their energy consumption, sharing knowledge, practices and ideas helped the participants to identify problems and seek for solutions that would improve their domestic energy usage. To achieve this, the concept of the EnergyMentor was developed, which aims to help fill the gap from awareness to action. The EnergyMentor is social software that brings together people that want to learn or teach alternative ways of conserving energy and minimizing their environmental footprint. The EnergyMentor, complementary to an energy meter, can create great potential to save energy as it transforms the sterile indications of the energy meter into rich suggestions and tangible actions. The EnergyMentor creates a network of experts that can be called upon at a moment’s notice to answer questions about energy and sustainable living. By integrating the EnergyMentor in people’s existing workflow of using a cell phone or a computer, one can easily and quickly ask questions and get personal, precise answers. Listening to real stories of people that have already taken on the challenge to minimize their energy consumption can be more engaging and fascinating than browsing endless lists on the web. People can text ideas and solutions to each other or even send a video of themselves, for instance, making home energy improvements. Last but not least, the EnergyMentor offers the opportunity to find other local users who are trying to live a more sustainable lifestyle. This can create great dynamics on a local level, fostering more chances to grow grassroots movements and fostering the success of centers for sustainable living. Subject energy mentorsustainable designenergy conservationenergy metering To reference this document use: http://resolver.tudelft.nl/uuid:f6df30d5-658a-491a-a144-82c60ce2235a Access restriction Campus only Part of collection Student theses Document type master thesis Rights (c) 2009 Papantoniou, L.