Gravio Blog
November 29, 2022

Shaping Human Behaviors in a Challenging Energy Climate using IoT sensors

IoT can help shaping human behaviors and therefore making a long lasting impact
Shaping Human Behaviors in a Challenging Energy Climate using IoT sensors

Energy management is an indispensable tool for companies. It makes energy consumption transparent and thus creates the basis for reducing it. This is a decisive measure for saving CO2 emissions and thus contributing to greater sustainability. 

2022 was also the year of the sharp energy price increase due to the war in Ukraine. Countries around the world started to realize how dependent they are on each other, especially when it comes to producing and trading energy. As a result, many governments started initiatives to incentivize their industries to optimize energy efficiency while limiting the impact on productivity.

This inevitably had an effect on the IoT industry. The demand for sensor technologies related to energy optimization increased dramatically in 2022. Also, the Gravio team saw a sharp rise in demand for energy optimization-related applications.

One of the most popular devices we are now featuring is an Ampere Meter electrical energy clamp that can be retrofitted easily onto existing infrastructure. These sensors can also operate without batteries! To achieve this, Gravio supports a protocol called EnOcean. All sensors that are in the EnOcean protocol are powered by harvesting environmental energy. Energy harvesting means the sensor draws  energy from the environment to transmit the signal wirelessly from sensor to gateway, such as solar, piezo electronics, or, in the case of the energy sensors, the induction field an electrical cable produces when electricity flows through.

The sensor then sends the amperage wirelessly to the Gravio edge computer, with a range of around 30-50 meters.

Measuring electrical energy consumption can give you valuable insights or enable you for cost-saving automation:

  • Some devices may be pulling energy even if they are in an “off” state. You can use a smart plug controlled by Gravio to switch them on and/or off completely if they are not needed.
  • Some devices may be switched on even when they are not needed. For example, an aircon might be switched on, even though there is no person in the room. Detecting that people have left the room and hence switching off the air conditioning can be a significant energy-saving measure.
  • Switching off lights in empty rooms will help energy conservation as well, even though not as significantly as air conditioning.
  • Using signaling lights (for example, red, amber, and green) to indicate how much energy is currently being consumed can have an impact on user behavior. Such measures are perfect for forming user habits.
  • Simple energy consumption dashboards and regular reports help raise awareness and provide the tools required to increase efficiency.

Shaping Human Habits

But one of the most important factors to impact energy consumption levels is shaping the habits of the people using the machinery and appliances consuming energy. For this purpose, tools that can interact with the physical environment, sensor data, and nudge humans are perfect. Nevertheless, other aspects will have to be taken into account as well:

Simplification of Information

Simplification of information is crucial to making communications user-friendly and clear. Clear visibility of energy consumption, associated costs, patterns, and possible savings should be laid out in an easy-to-understand manner. These can come in the form of a dashboard, mobile push notifications or simple on site notifications.

Instant Feedback Mechanisms

Any action a user takes in order to cut energy consumption should trigger immediate feedback or a noticeable impact. That will give the user a form of gratification and incentives him or her to act similarly in the future. Examples of immediate feedback could be that the color of a light bulb can change depending on the energy consumption of a device, an audible signal could indicate “thank you for saving energy”, and a highly visible dashboard could show a curve dropping.

Gamification

Another way of incentivizing user behavior is gamification. This would require the identification of users individually with the idea of assigning bonus points to certain behaviors. This setup would of course require more complex integration, especially if measures have to be taken into account that prevents the users from cheating. But if implemented well, gamification can be one of the most effective ways to shape user behavior. 

Peer Pressure

With establishing social norms and standards, the possibility of creating mechanisms that create peer pressure amongst the users can emerge. An example could be to render it socially unacceptable to leave the lights on when leaving a room. Peers will start observing each other’s behaviors and start judging each other. There is no specific need to put anyone in the pillory, but more noticeable feedback signals for misbehavior, for example, audible signals, can help force users to pay more attention to their behaviors as the attention of others can be drawn more easily.

Using an IoT Platform to Help Shaping Behaviors

In order to close the loop between the users, their behaviors, and the equipment they are using, an IoT platform is required. The IoT platform can take inputs such as user interactions, as well as create outputs such as signaling, notifications, dashboard outputs, etc.

Gravio is suitable for building such solutions, as much of the data does not require to go to a cloud system. Many of the actions and direct reactions can and should be implemented directly where they are occurring, at the edge of the network. This makes the system more resilient, private, and secure.

If you like to get started with an easy-to-use IoT platform that doesn’t require any programming skills, we suggest you have a look at Gravio.

Download the Gravio App from the app store https://link.gravio.com/studio to get started with a free version initially, then, if you like to add sensors, you can upgrade at any time.

For questions and ideas, join our free slack channel https://link.gravio.com/slack.

References: 

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