On Feb 1, the new Social Power Plus app was launched for use by the registered household participants in the regions of Schaffhausen, Winterthur and Wil. The app is connected to the household’s electricity or gas smart meter thus participants can see their energy consumption on an hourly basis. A big jump from the usual quarterly or yearly energy readings! The app has been developed by research teams at SUPSI and ZHAW, as well as supported with data processing by CLEMAP, and all in cooperation with the regional energy utilities: EKS, Stadtwerk Winterthur, and Technische Betriebe Wil.
However, the goal of the project is to encourage energy savings, and multiple research studies have shown that providing data alone will not help reach this goal. Thus, through a co-creation design process with household participants in 2021, the research team additionally implemented further features to support behaviour change for energy savings. Beyond the daily and weekly energy consumption and savings information, the participants can take part in challenges to save energy, get tips for saving energy in different areas of their home, and share personal experiences and suggestions in the app on thematic pinboards.
On the evening of Feb 1, the research and data team held a short introduction session online to get to know each other a little better, finding out why people wanted to participate, and explaining the app. Motivations were very different: from the interest in how to save energy to the desire to contribute to research activities. The variety in responses is very positive and appreciated, as we hoped to attract a diverse group of participants.
Now, almost a month later, we are seeing how this diversity is playing out in the app use. We have received feedback by email, telephone and within the app’s pinboards about where misunderstandings are occurring and what additional features would be welcomed. We have listened to these requests and have actively been answering any questions. As well, the app development team has implemented several new features: a year-to-date view of the weekly energy consumption, a total energy curve in addition to the break-down of consumption by heating and other appliances, and the consumption baseline (used to calculate energy savings) will be reset every month to adjust for seasonal changes in energy use.
Additionally, the thematic pinboards have been buzzing with questions and answers between participants about energy saving devices at home, tips & tricks for behavioural changes, and enquiries about the optimal settings of the heating and other appliances. The community, of almost 200 people using the app, has definitely proven to be a network and resource to itself.
For the coming two months, March and April, there will be new challenges in different thematic areas released in the app, like how to save energy when cooking, cleaning or working from home. And at the end of each month, a regional energy challenge will compare the saving prowess of each of the regions.
The image represents the participants’ answers according to how often they look at the app (asked at the second online meeting held on 22.2.22).