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Collaborative Recommendations and Adaptive Control for Personalised Energy Saving

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Awareness and gamification motivate positive energy efficiency behaviour

The push for more efficient consumption and use of resources could mean less stress on the environment and better quality of life. An EU-funded innovation action has provided fun and engaging means for us to do our part through behavioural changes in energy use.

Energy

Introducing the enCOMPASS project, coordinator Piero Fraternali emphasises: “People need to understand how and why they are consuming resources in order to identify the inefficient behaviours that need to be changed.” To support this, project partners first researched the factors driving energy consumption in households, schools and public places and they identified problems related to awareness and knowledge. Beliefs, attitudes, perceived responsibility, intentions and motivations were also found to play an important role in energy behaviours. “All of these elements are behavioural predictors and, by modifying them, a more sustainable behaviour can be induced,” Fraternali explains.

Efficiency and learning across domains and platforms

enCOMPASS itself proved efficient in its use of resources, leveraging positive outcomes achieved by the SmartH2O project in relation to behavioural change in the water domain. The consortium adapted and applied similar strategies to energy consumption. It developed and provided a set of tools enabling people to understand and improve their consumption efficiency. The tools supporting this “playful and collaborative learning,” as Fraternali underscores, include intelligent data visualisation, contextual energy saving recommendations, educational content and gamified conservation goals. The enCOMPASS mobile app offers multiple energy awareness functions and makes recommendations for saving energy, for example to set the thermostat to a lower level. Users can provide feedback on the recommendations and their comfort level, ultimately helping to improve the accuracy of recommendations. “The app was gamified to keep high levels of engagement and motivation to save energy,” the coordinator reports. “A leader board enabled social comparison and competition, which are key elements for motivation.” Deserving of special mention in terms of engagement of young and old(er) alike is a hybrid digital-physical game available as both an Android and iOS app. “The Funergy board game and digital app interact to challenge players in the implementation of cooperative and competitive strategies to acquire energy saving points.” He continues: “Energy-related quizzes further deepen the knowledge and awareness of children and their families about environmental and energy issues.”

Fun and sustainability across the board

The Funergy game and project pilots were validated with a large number of users in diverse situations in households, schools and public buildings in Germany, Greece and Switzerland. Over 1 500 elementary and middle school students from 10 schools participated in Funergy play sessions in Italy and Switzerland. Beyond a full listing of enCOMPASS deliverables and materials available to the public, project partners actively shared their efforts with audiences reaching into the thousands across various social media channels. There more than 30 scientific publications will also push forward research in energy conservation behavioural interventions. Offline, enCOMPASS participated in several research and industry events during its 3-year life cycle, culminating in its final event at European Utility Week 2019. “The tools we designed were received enthusiastically by the participants during the workshops and the playing sessions,” Fraternali concludes. “It helped us understand that people are willing to get involved and participate in sustainability-related activities when they are provided with tools that are adequately designed considering their needs.” The partners will now focus on executing the business plans created for the platform.

Keywords

enCOMPASS, energy, motivation, Funergy, behavioural change, energy consumption, sustainability, environment, energy use, data visualisation

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