Frequently Asked Questions FAQs

This section includes a list of questions we prepared to support households participating in “Social Power Plus: We are the energy-saving foxes”. If you are curious about the Social Power Plus app and the related Community Energy Challenge, you can also look at the Tutorial and at the Privacy policy statements. If you cannot find the answer to your questions, feel free to contact us at socialpowerplus@zhaw.ch.
Finally, please consider that registration in the Social Power Plus app is currently only possible for the household customers of the Swiss utility companies EKS, SWW, and TBW, that were selected after an application procedure in Fall/Winter 2021. If you would like to know more about the app, even if you are not among those households, please contact us.

App installation and registration
1. How can I access the Social Power Plus app?
If you are among of the EKS, SWW, an TBW household customers that were selected for participation in Social Power Plus, here you can find the procedure to start using the app. You can download and install the Social Power Plus app by clicking on the pictures below.
Once installed, please register your account, by specifying your email address, choosing a house name and password. You can also add a picture. Please, consider that the house name you will enter, as well as your picture, will be publicly shown to all the other app users when you post messages in the Pinboard section.
At registration you will also be requested to enter a “House code”. You will have received this code via email by the Social Power Plus team. If you cannot find the email reporting such a code, please contact us at socialpowerplus@zhaw.ch: we will send your house code again.
Before completing your registration, you will also be requested to set your energy savings goal. How much energy do you aim at saving, during the next three months? Set your separate goals for the energy you consume for heating your purposes, and the energy you consume for all the other uses.
Et voilà! Welcome to Social Power Plus! As soon as they are released in February , you can join the energy-saving challenges and competitions In the meanwhile, you can start exploring the app’s features and the feedback it provides on your household’s energy consumption.

Does your smartphone have an operating system different than iOS and Android or are you using an older operating system? We are sorry, but Social Power Plus is only available for a minimum iOS 9 and Android 5.

2. I would like to modify the house name or email address I provided at registration. How can I do it? I noticed in the Settings section I can only change my picture.
Please, write us at socialpowerplus@zhaw.ch, indicating the changes you would like to introduce, and we will do them for you.

Data collection and privacy conditions
3. Which data is Social Power Plus going to collect? 
The following household data will be collected during the Social Power Plus app between January and December 2022 and evaluated in a pseudonymised form (i.e. the data are not associated with your person/household) for research purposes:

  • Electricity consumption per hour from house electricity smart meters or CLEMAP sensors;
  • Gas consumption per hour (only for customers of TBW) from house gas smart meters;
  • Duration and frequency of use of the app.

Besides such data, participants to the Social Power Plus project will also be requested to answer three online questionnaires about energy consumption.

4. How will my personal data be treated and stored?
Please refer to the Privacy policy which was presented at app registration.

5. Will other Social Power Plus participants see my personal data?
The other households participating to Social Power Plus will never be shown information about your individual energy consumption data. They will only be provided with information on the average change in energy consumption of all the households of the same category as theirs (families, households of adult(s) younger than 65 years, or households of adult(s) older than 65 years). Namely, your percent change in energy consumption will be considered into such average values, but only aggregate values for each category will be shown to other participants.
Other participants will be shown your house name and your picture when you will post messages in the Pinboard section (such ad for instance when completing a challenge or when posting any comments in the Pinboard). This is why, when you will select them at registration, you will be reminded to choose a house name and picture that you agree to show to other app users.

6. I applied for Social Power Plus and joined the project, by starting to use the app. However, now I want to uninstall the app and leave the project. How can I do that? And what happens to the data collected by Social Power Plus and associated to my household?Participation to Social Power Plus is a voluntary choice, therefore participants have the right to leave the project and stop using the Social Power Plus app at any time, without providing reasons for this. For this purpose, participants will have to write us at socialpowerplus@zhaw.ch, asking to be removed from the list of registered users. At the same time, they can also ask that the data related to their household that were collected in the past are integrally cancelled and removed from the Social Power Plus data-bases.
Since this is an important aspect for research purposes, participants wishing to leave the project and/or asking to cancel their data will be asked the reasons via an online, anonymous, short questionnaire. However, answering the questionnaire will not be compulsory.  

Energy consumption feedback
7. Social Power Plus provides a daily feedback on the energy consumption of my household, by indicating a percentage variation of consumption, which is indicated through the “+” and “-” signs. Against what is such a variation computed?
The percent change in consumption is computed against each household’s baseline energy consumption data, which refers to the average weekly energy consumption registered by that household between January, 10 2022 and January, 31 2022 (= baseline). Such a change is shown through a percentage value, accompanied by a “+” or “-” sign. The “+” sign means that an increase in consumption has occurred, compared to the baseline. The “-“ sign instead means that a decrease in consumption has occurred, compared to the baseline. You should strive to get a “-“ sign, namely a decrease in consumption, which represents energy consumption savings.

8. How frequently is the feedback on “My home” and “My consumption” sections updated? I have accessed Social Power Plus a few times during the day, but they always remain constant.
Social Power Plus updates your energy consumption data once a day. Every day, you can access information on your hourly consumption data from the day before (namely, you can see the evolution of your hourly energy consumption along the twenty-four hours of the day before). Regularly check Social Power Plus on a daily basis, if you like, and you will be able to get a complete understanding of your energy consumption patterns, without too much of an effort.

9. I installed Social Power Plus since a few days, though I cannot see the energy consumption data of my household yet/the energy consumption data of my household is no longer visible in “My consumption”, and the same holds for the daily feedback on goal achievement.
Uhm… Sorry for this inconvenience, this is not what should happen. Please, write us at socialpowerplus@zhaw.ch, providing your house name and/or your house code. If you do not remember them… write us in any case and together we will find them out, together with the reasons for the technical problem behind data acquisition. Thank you!

10. My house is heated by means of a heat pump, that consumes electricity. How can Social Power Plus estimate the amount of energy that my household consumes for heating purposes, and separate it from the amount of energy that is consumed for non-heating purposes? And how is the consumption of energy for the stand-by of electric appliances identified, for SWW and EKS customers? And how is the consumption for other appliances (fridge, oven and cooking, anything else) identified for EKS customers?
For Social Power Plus, the research team has developed energy consumption disaggregation algorithms that analyse your consumption data and, by considering the electricity “fingerprint” of the consumption patterns, can estimate how much of your overall energy consumption is used for heating purposes and how much is used for other purposes and stand-by. For EKS customers, Social Power Plus can disaggregate energy consumption in more categories than the customers of SWW and TBW because the sensors installed for their customers provide additional detailed energy consumption data (e.g. high frequency electricity consumption data, reactive and active power use). If you want to know more, you can write us at socialpowerplus@zhaw.ch and we will put you in contact with the researchers who developed the disaggregation algorithms.

11. I think the energy consumption data shown in “My consumption” section is not correct.
If you doubt about the feedback provided by the Social Power Plus app on the energy consumption of your household, do not hesitate to write us at socialpowerplus@zhaw.ch, also providing some indication why you suspect the data feedback is not correct. Thank you!

12. Sometimes my house is empty, since all the persons in my household are away for holidays or job purposes. Do I have to notify anything to Social Power Plus?
Since Social Power Plus monitors all energy consumption data and has no other information besides the data consumption itself, if you could tell us about periods when you will be absent from home, it will be great for us to properly analyse the effectiveness of the whole Social Power Plus approach. You could simply notify us of your absence periods via socialpowerplus@zhaw.ch. This will change nothing in the energy feedback you will receive in the app but will be very helpful to us for the scientific analyses on the data we will collect. 

Challenges and Regional Energy Competitions
13. I have seen Social Power Plus invited participants to join energy saving challenges. Am I compelled to join them? What happens if I ignore them?
In Social Power Plus everything is voluntary and you are not compelled to perform anything. The challenges are an opportunity you have to challenge yourself in energy saving activities. You are free to join them and you are welcome to join as many as you like, and repeat them. You can also have challenges active at the same time in parallel. Usually, challenges last two weeks each and you can start them any time once they are released on the app. Social Power Plus will not automatically check if you have actually engaged in the challenge. To consider a challenge accomplished, however, Social Power Plus will ask you to share your experience with the other participants. For this purpose, you will be requested to post some comments about the way you dealt with the challenges, and if you like to also share a picture about your household and the challenge. Check frequently the “Pinboard” section to find inspiration about the way the other households dealt with the challenges!  

14. I have received a notification stating that the next Social Power Plus Regional energy competition is going to start soon. I looked for the registration form, but I could not find anything. What should I do to join it?
All households participating in Social Power Plus are automatically included in the Regional Energy Competition which is one-week long at the end of each month (February, March and April). You do not need to register, since every household is automatically in. And you can keep your activities with the challenges you have committed to, while the Regional energy competition is on. Social Power Plus will simply compute the amount of energy saved in each household during the week of the competition, and then average the savings among all households of the same region (EKS, SWW, and TBW) to determine which region has saved the most. Which region will save more energy that the other two?
All savings will as always be computed against the average weekly energy consumption collected for each household between January, 10 and January, 31 2022. As for “My home” section, a feedback on the evolution of the challenge will be provided on a daily basis. Also in this case, a percentage value accompanied by a “+” sign means that an increase in consumption has occurred, compared to the baseline. A percentage value accompanied by a “-“ sign instead means that a decrease in consumption has occurred, compared to the baseline. You should strive to get a “-“ sign, namely a decrease in consumption, which represents energy consumption savings.
Overall, three Regional energy competitions will be launched by Social Power Plus. They will always last for a whole week and will occur on the last week of the three months of February, March, and April 2022. You can support your region by saving as much energy as possible exactly during these three weeks. And don’t forget to share your encouragement with other households of your region, by leaving a comment on the Pinboard section!