Periodic Reporting for period 1 - DOMINO (DOMINO - Connecting Europe, Saving Energy)
Reporting period: 2016-03-01 to 2018-02-28
The main conclusions from the DOMINO project are the following: very environmentally minded people tend to be sceptical that electronic equipment such as smart plugs are useful vehicles for reducing environmental impacts of individuals; data protection issues are a strong barrier for adopting smart home technologies in households, especially among environmentally minded individuals; people were most open to test the smart plugs when they learned that it was for research purposes; social media was not an effective channel for recruiting participants for the DOMINO challenge, external events where direct personal communication was possible worked best for recruitment – especially at events that had a focus on science or technology issues; smart home equipment (app, smart plugs) needs to be as user-friendly as possible, otherwise users will quickly lose interest; still, users always need a helpdesk with whom they can discuss their questions.
• The project team developed the DOMINO app and an associated database that stored different instructions for behavioural change and baseline data for average consumption per appliance, differentiating among countries and household sizes.
• To address all concerns surrounding data protection, we created a Data Management Plan as a framework for all data handling during the project.
• We produced DOMINO smart plugs for the participating households.
• The plugs and the app were tested by the project team and by households participating in a pilot phase, subsequently we improved the equipment. Overall there were two test phases.
• We designed a Marketing and Communications Strategy that served as a basis for the implementation of off- and online communication campaigns and activities.
• This strategy guided our implementation of outreach activities in Brussels, Berlin, and the metropolitan area of Naples: we held workshops, pitched at co-working spaces, canvassed at farmers markets and trade fairs etc. to invite households to participate in the DOMINO challenge.
• Smart plugs were sent to participants so that they could use them to monitor the electricity consumption of their major appliances. A helpdesk was set up to help participants use the equipment.
The DOMINO Challenge started in July 2017. Participants were provided with the smart plug equipment and started monitoring their energy consumption. However, due to a number of technical and organisational difficulties, the consortium decided to terminate the project at the end of February 2018. Given the reduced lifetime of the project, only around 1,100 households were provided with smart plugs and the DOMINO app. As appliance-specific energy-saving advice was only sent to some participants because of technical problems, only limited amount of data on behavioural change could be collected.
Active participants received information about the electricity consumption of their household appliances as well as recommendations on behavioural change. But due to limited feedback and measurement problems little can be said about potential electricity savings that they achieved. Nevertheless, during the outreach activities – online and offline – many individuals could be sensitised for the importance of reducing electricity consumption through behavioural change.
Despite the difficulties in the DOMINO challenge, it became clear that the promotion of energy efficiency among the wider public is a major concern that encounters great interest and requires further support action. While some participants had a good user experience, the challenges encountered in the DOMINO project underline that high usability of smart home devices is paramount if such equipment is to be used for triggering behaviour change. Learnings from DOMINO can serve future activities on using smart home devices for increasing energy efficiency in private households.