What are you doing to play your part and be eco-friendly? Fortunately, today the technology helps us out with a new generation of smart and energy-saving devices which make it possible to improve our energy efficiency, reduce waste and save money without renouncing to our home comfort.
eTEACHER, as energy efficiency project focused on improving energy users behaviour, is currently developing its own Advisor App. The advisor is an app that people can use to improve their energy usage. It integrates ICT-based behavioural change techniques such as gamification (games, challenges, bonus system, energy literacy, energy visibility, etc.) and will facilitate the execution of tailored energy interventions which result in a significantly enhancement of energy efficiency.
The advisor itself relies on different software components in the eTEACHER system and represents the interaction point for the end-user with eTEACHER. It is a cloud-based platform, which receives energy relevant data from different software systems in eTEACHER, which are working in the background, not visible to the end user. The advisor presents collected information in a gamified manner to the end user and provides tailored recommendations to improve the energy efficiency. The tailoring can range from tailoring it to the specific apartment as well as to the user himself. At the end, it should help to save money and to reduce the carbon footprint of its users.
It was important to cover the most relevant technologies, to make the Advisor easy to access. It does not matter, if someone uses a smartphone, tablet or pc, nor if it is Windows, Linux, Android, macOS or iOS. The app feels appropriate to the used device and uses design guidelines created by companies like Google and Microsoft. The goal was that everyone is able to use the app, without any introduction. Because of that, the app went through some design stages.
Since used data is highly sensible and should just be accessed by specific people, data security was a priority. People have to authenticate, and access is just given, if it is authorised. People can enter the personalized app through a normal login and connect rooms or apartments to their account.
If eTEACHER recognizes a behaviour which can be improved, recommendations are triggered and are shown to the user in real time. These recommendations are presented on a smartphone with so called heads-up notifications. These are known from several eMail clients as well as messaging apps like WhatsApp and people can interact directly with them. It is also possible to access the recommendations in the app, which can be seen like a quest log, where you can fullfill certain missions. Different types of recommendations are generated. These can be events like an energy saving day, where people should try to use as less energy as possible, with a followed summary; to stay below a certain kWh for a certain amount of time; tailored recommendations, like to close certain windows or general hints, which show how much money can be saved in a year by shortening the showering time.
The theory of nudges comes from behavioural science and was pioneered by Nobel-winning Richard Thaler. It is now being studied as an alternative strategy to help reduce household energy waste.