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Energy Conservation through Social Competitions in Blocks of Flats

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Buildings are responsible for a large fraction of the world’s total electrical consumption. Energy awareness of residents, by means of timely electrical consumption feedback through smart metering, aims to reduce the waste of energy. Further savings can be achieved by leveraging social norms and entertainment to drive sustainable behavior. In this paper, we investigate two important pillars in the energy saving initiatives, which are the recreational aspect and the social influence of the neighborhood. We performed a small case study in two blocks of flats, creating a social competition among the flats, to award those with the best energy management. Our evaluation results indicate that energy-related social games have the potential to contribute significantly in reducing the electricity footprint of home residents, engaging them in more sustainable lifestyles.
This project has been presented at the 1st International Conference on Smart Grids and Green IT Systems (SMARTGREENS), at Porto, Portugal in April, 2012.

Publicado en: Tecnología, Empresariales
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Energy Conservation through Social Competitions in Blocks of Flats

  1. 1. Energy Conservation through Social Competitions in Blocks of Flats Andreas Kamilaris, Giannis Kitromilides and Andreas Pitsillides Networks Research Laboratory, University of Cyprus 1st International Conference on Smart Grids and Green IT Systems (SMARTGREENS)Porto, Portugal 19th April 2012
  2. 2. Introduction University of Cyprus• Increasing energy demands proliferate the concerns about rational energy management.• Buildings consume a large proportion of the world’s total electrical energy.• People are willing and capable to adapt their behaviour to energy-saving lifestyles if given the necessary feedback, support, and incentives.• Energy awareness through real-time feedback has contributed in more rational utilization of electricity.• However, there still exists a significant margin for further energy conservation.
  3. 3. Motivation University of Cyprus• While detailed energy feedback makes people aware about electricity, the influence of the community has the potential to drive residents towards a persistent behavioural change.• Social norms can motivate people to question their behaviour, if they discover it is not ”normal”.• Residents may learn from their neighbours and receive encouragement and support.• Exploring entertainment through a social game and the social influence of the neighbourhood, as parameters for energy conservation.• A social competition between neighbouring flats towards efficient energy utilization.• Commitment may help people ensure that their actions are consistent with the common benefit.
  4. 4. Social Competition: Rules and Conditions University of Cyprus• The competition would take place in blocks of flats.• The duration of the competition is one month.• The winning flat is the flat reducing most effectively its electrical consumption.• Comparison with electricity bills from previous months.• The award to the winning flat would be a real-time energy monitor from Current Cost.
  5. 5. Social Competition: Technical Details University of Cyprus Plogg Smart Power Outlet Flat Mains Meter Flats’ Microsoft SQL Residents Server database Web Server
  6. 6. Social Competition: Feedback to Residents University of Cyprus• Daily feedback about each flat’s and the whole block’s consumption.• Real-time information about flat ranking in the competition.• Historical information, translating electricity to money.• Feedback through a website, a Facebook application and a notice box located at the main lobby.• The website included a forum, through which people could communicate and exchange tips about energy saving practices and techniques.• A Facebook group encouraged residents to discuss about the study.
  7. 7. Social Competition: Case Study University of Cyprus• Two blocks of flats: Location Suburb Urban Flats 10 20 Participating Flats 6 20 Residents 10 29 Age 18-25 2 10 Age 26-35 6 12 Age 36-45 2 4 Age 46-55 - 3 Age 56+ - -
  8. 8. Social Competition: Suburban Block University of Cyprus• Strong correlation of daily temperature to block’s energy consumption.• Considerable percentage of consumed electricity utilized for heating.• Comparing the first two weeks of the study with the last two, the energy consumption in the last two weeks is reduced by 260 kWh or 26%.• In days with similar temperature the energy consumption towards the end of the month is reduced (e.g. days 9 and 24 by 22%).• Similar consumption patterns in weekends and in weekdays.
  9. 9. Social Competition: Suburban Block University of Cyprus Month Previous Month This Month Temperature 11.56 degrees Celsius 11.60 degrees Celsius Humidity 67% 63%• Flats on higher floors need more heating and consumed more electricity.• The average reduction of energy is 11.90%.• Winning Flat: 303 (A young couple around 30, they both found this competition as a first-class opportunity to save money.)
  10. 10. Social Competition: Urban Block University of Cyprus• Comparing the first two weeks of the study with the last two, the energy• consumption in the last two weeks is reduced by 1091 kWh or 33%.• In days with similar temperature, the energy consumption towards the end of the month is considerably reduced (e.g. days 7 and 26 by 13%).
  11. 11. Social Competition: Urban Block University of Cyprus Month Previous Month This Month Temperature 11.60 degrees Celsius 13 degrees Celsius Humidity 63% 59%• All flats reduced their consumption. Average reduction reached 27.74%.• An important factor is the average increase of temperature by 2 degrees.• Winning Flat: 303 (A 31-years-old woman, she was really proud because she helped protecting the environment).
  12. 12. Suburban Vs Urban Block University of Cyprus Suburban Block Urban Block• Average energy savings in the urban case are 2.4x more.• People at the suburban block consumed in average 11% more energy.• Residents at the urban block were more excited about the competition.• A large proportion of the urban residents were highly educated students, and it was easier for them to understand and accept the motivation and terms of the competition, inspiring also the other residents to pay more attention to it.
  13. 13. Reasons for Increased Consumption University of Cyprus• Flat 302, 27 years old man, suburban block “I am not willing to sacrifice my comfort to save energy and money. I do not encounter financial problems”.• Flat 102, male student, urban block “I have my computer equipment working 24/7, and I can not do much about it. Using more energy-efficient infrastructure is out of my budget”.• Flat 305, 31 years old man, urban block “I want my flat warm the whole day and I earn a good salary to afford that”.
  14. 14. Demographic Analysis: Age University of Cyprus• Older people consume more electricity, as they spend most of their time at home.• Age groups 26-35 and 46-55 are mostly influenced by the competition, reducing their consumption by 32%.• It may be more convenient for people that spend much time at home, to observe and analyze their consumption, taking countermeasures.
  15. 15. Demographics Analysis: Sex University of Cyprus• Females tend to consume more electricity as they (usually) spend more time at home, having energy-demanding habits.• Women have contributed more in saving energy, reaching 30% reductions, while men around 20%.• In general, females were more interested in the competition. They found the perspective of protecting the environment appealing.
  16. 16. Demographic Analysis: Yearly Income University of Cyprus• Tenants with high income consumed more energy as they were not willing to sacrifice their comfort just for saving money.• Residents with low income consumed less than half the energy of their high-income neighbours.• Low-income residents had the least savings, as they probably had already tried to save energy in the past, to reduce their costs.• High-income residents reduced their consumption by 30%, motivated because of environmental reasons and not to save money.
  17. 17. Demographic Analysis: Residents per Flat University of Cyprus• More tenants at each flat implies more consumption.• While this difference is more significant when comparing flats having one or two residents, reaching 44%, it becomes very small between flats of two and three residents, around 4%.• One-tenant flats achieved 30% savings, since it is easier for someone living alone to develop his own energy-efficient practices.• The margin of potential savings is much bigger in one-bedroom flats.
  18. 18. General Statistics University of Cyprus• 72% of tenants stated they were actively involved with the competition and this helped them to acquire a more sustainable lifestyle.• 94% believed that this competition will influence them to save energy in the future.• 69% considered that the method of comparing consumption with neighbours is a promising way for saving energy.• 48% used the website for being updated about the competition.• All residents checked the information placed in their notice boxes.• The Facebook application was used by 15% of people.• 89% wanted to be informed in real-time about their consumption.• From them, 88% were willing to buy a product that would show them their consumption in real-time. They would invest at most 70 Euro for such a product.• Some of them were surprised when we explained to them that this is possible at these costs. Some people did not even know that such products exist.
  19. 19. Suggestions from Residents University of Cyprus• Feedback through SMS, sent by the utility once per day.• Daily feedback through email.• More detailed electricity bills.• Smart incentives to people to save energy by the government.• Similar competitions with awards from the utilities.• Scalar pricing schemes that reward green flats and houses while punishing energy-wasting buildings.• Grants from the utilities or the government for renewable energy systems and green lighting.• More pervasive and real-time energy feedback techniques.
  20. 20. Conclusions University of Cyprus• Positive findings.• The practice of giving awards and incentives to residents seems promising.• Social norms seem to have a significant effect on energy conservation.• Only a small case study with 2 blocks, 26 flats and 39 residents.• Not safe to extract general conclusions.• Temperature fluctuations prevented a solid analysis of the results.• Respecting the privacy of people.• Costly equipment, not necessary in the future smart grid.• Social competitions for saving energy could be enabled by the electric utilities in the near future.• Smart, effective and pervasive energy feedback techniques, methods and displays!• The vision of smart neighborhoods.
  21. 21. Future Work University of Cyprus• A larger case study, involving also blocks of buildings in more rural areas.• Select months in which temperature is not a dominant factor in the energy consumption of residents.• A longer period of observation, to foster the learning effect of the participants.• Long-term influence on residents’ behaviour is an important dimension.• Combine continuous energy feedback with a social competition, to examine whether further savings could be achieved.
  22. 22. Future Work University of Cyprus• SocialElectricity• Understand the “semantics” of consumed energy through comparisons with your friends and neighbours.
  23. 23. Thanks for your attention!Contact Details: Andreas Kamilaris (