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Playing at home energy savings

28 March 2012 Inderscience

An approach to cutting domestic energy consumption based on playing a game - Energy Battle - can lead to household savings of up to 45% on electricity consumption and lead to better energy-saving habits, says a study published in the Journal of Design Research.

Daphne Geelen, David Keyson, Stella Boess and Han Brezet of Delft University of Technology in The Netherlands evaluated an energy-saving game in twenty student households that gives the occupants direct feedback on energy usage, ranking of the competing teams, tips and access to the Energy Battle game. The obvious aim is to find ways to reduce energy consumption such as switching off unnecessary lights, using energy-saving bulbs and unplugging electrical equipment rather than leaving it in standby.

During the Energy Battle, the student households were able to cut their energy consumption on average by a quarter through the gamification of efficiency. However, the most efficient household was able to cut their energy use almost in half (45%). Once the game was over, energy use in most of the households increased but remained below the baseline recorded prior to starting the game.

"A game such as the Energy Battle appears to provide a powerful means to stimulate energy saving in the short term," the researchers explain. In follow-up interviews they found that some participants had changed their energy-use habits, but the researchers suggest that now is the time to see whether the "gamification" of energy efficiency can be exploited for long-term reductions in fuel consumption and whether the same approach might work for domestic environments other than student households.

"The test of the Energy Battle in student households demonstrates the potential for creating insight among households on how to save energy and the formation of new habits," the team says. "The next step would be to make a translation of the findings from this study to tailor the Energy Battle for other target groups, such as families with children." 

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