Electricity is a necessary component of everyday life - but it is hidden from view. Most consumers never are aware of its presence, other than incidentally; the electricity bill is difficult to decipher; the electricity meter is graded in units with littlerelevance to the everyday actions of the consumer.The current energy policy goals in Sweden include reducing electricity usage in households considerably, to offset some of the increase from the latest few years. To achieve this goal, consumers need to be made aware of the electricity they use, to understand more of what mechanisms govern and constrain electricity use, and to be able to control that usage in finer detail.The ERG project has as its goal to build tools to help consumers make informed decisions as to their energy usage and to reduce their electricity turnover, without lowering their living standards. We have during the Fall performed a series of interviews in cooperation with the Aware project at the Interactive Institute to probe the attitudes of several different end consumers. We have found, in keeping with other similar published studies that consumers have a high level of awareness and a readiness to modify their behaviour but little knowledge and no equipment to act on.A better energy bill or a better meter alone will not be enough. We investigate ways of introducing energy awareness into the everyday fabric of the household,in the form of unobtrusive and pleasing ambient displays rather than a fact-choked and complex graph shown on request. visible at all times,Immediate feedback is central to any behavioural modification: to consumers be more aware of the consequences of their actions we need to provide immediate reactions from the part of the system. We are new types of interfaces which will provide such feedback.The companion notion of comparison or relativity is as central. Our displays will relate the current energy turnover of the household to previous similar time periods or to other similar households.A control mechanism under consideration in the project is that of direct physical metaphors. Most automobile users are fairly well aware of the energy usage as regards fuel: the cost of gasoline, the volume of gasoline, the range of a full tank of fuel. In this spirit, we have constructed an experimental prototype control system to make the user aware of how much energy a TV monitor uses: when the "fuel tank" is empty, more fuel (in this case, any liquid) has to be poured in to work the TV.
Power meter and art piece, as a visualization of energy usage in public
spaces; and in itself an example of the upcoming possibly "disruptive"
LED-based lighting technology change.
An example of immediate feedback for controlling energy usage, is this
water kettle demonstrator informing the user of the short-term
predicted power usage through force feedback and letting the user to
"book a time" for the appliance to run.
Power outlet with an attitude. Detects electrical device and notifies
energy awareness system, measures energy usage, and gives feedback.
Visually attractive physically and graphically energy visualization.