Meeting 4/11/12: Holger Dick, L3D — Motivating instead of pressuring: Using smart grid technology and cultures of participation to reduce residential energy consumption

Global energy consumption is at unsustainable levels and to reduce it, renewable energies and increased energy efficiency have to be combined with changes in behavior. Common approaches to ‘motivate’ people to use less energy are increasing energy prices or starting energy competitions between consumers. Both have repeatedly been shown to actually reduce intrinsic motivation and result in yo-yo effects.

I will present a novel approach to combine technologies and ideas from computer science, cognitive science, and the Smart Grid to build socio-technical systems that motivate and support people to reduce their energy consumption without requiring large financial investments or policy changes and with sustainable long-term behavior changes. I will discuss the underlying theories and assumptions and show how they can be used to motivate people to reduce their energy consumption more effectively.

The second part of the talk will be about EMPIRE (Empowering People In Reducing Energy Consumption), a web-based feedback system that is built based on this novel approach. EMPIRE is going to be deployed to CU students over the coming months for a long-term evaluations and I am going to present the system, the underlying design philosophy, and the plans and expectations for the evaluation.