“When Energy Efficiency becomes a real Game”

“When Energy Efficiency becomes a real Game”

Angeliki Bousiou   Behavioural Scientist
 Angeliki Bousiou, Behavioral Scientist

When it comes to cost-effective and fast solutions to seal the “Green deal” and promote the energy efficiency, governments often pick public policies that leverage principles from behavioral economics and psychology. Many of these policies are related to retrofits and considered as ‘one-off’ remedies.

Proceeding to structural changes to make your home more energy efficient or replacing old inefficient appliances are both actions that fall into that category.

Monetary incentives complemented by the proper consulting services is a common approach utilized to motivate residential consumers to take action and participate in the move for a better world.

However, to manage the energy-consuming routines (such as the use of lighting and HVAC system) that are mainly habitual and trigger behavioral change, is much more complex. It requires constant effort, appropriate educational material and a well-designed framework that can ensure maximum energy savings and long-lasting results. Because such habits are often reliant on automatic processes, particularly resistant to change and typically overvalued by the actors. In such  case, while there are awareness campaigns that target to reduce energy use and run at a large scale all over the world, the results reveal increased consumer knowledge but still restricted tangible energy savings.

It is then that social norms and gamification elements entering the game to further motivate consumers and create greater opportunities for energy savings. Because the new era of things suggests the challenge to be how to take consumers from the knowledge level to conceptualization, and, then, a step forward to action level, in the most effective way.

An emerged trend is linked to the roll-out of energy efficiency platforms that provide frequent energy reports, smart energy tips, personalized recommendation along with gamification elements and social interaction. However, for many energy providers the effectiveness of their services looks like a coin toss. Sometimes the heads side appears and the objectives for savings are meet. Some others though, the tails side appears and utilities fail to fulfil their expectations.

The reason behind this randomness is the consumers’ uniqueness and this statement should not be taken lightly. In fact, the different personality types among consumers suggest that they react differently to the calls for energy efficiency, evaluate differently the provided incentives, are differently affected by the social norms, have different potentials to energy savings and differently endeavors to achieve them.

Considering this key parameter, Intelen innovates once again by introducing Serious Games, a new module that will pave the way for higher education, higher motivation, higher energy savings.

Intelen acknowledges that consumers’ engagement with energy savings is critical. Therefore, any false move able to put into risk energy efficiency or accrue serious negative impact, rather than a positive one on energy savings and potentials for behavioral change, should be carefully avoided. Recent research conducted by Intelen has shown that the use of external rewards such as badges and points, can be the staple of bad-gamification, with negative impact on the user’s perceived experience and engagement in the long term.

Even social norms alone can be a lurking peril since a social appraisal of the household’s relative energy performance can be critical in mitigating a ‘boomerang effect’, whereby relatively low energy consumption households increase their energy use, encouraged by their peers energy consumption level, to continue until they outperform the average.

Hence, Intelen presents “Serious Games” that enable consumers to engage with games that basically act as a reference point about what energy efficiency is. Within a framework that employs game mechanics similar to those met in other real games and along with competition elements and real-time feedback on user’s gaming performance, “Serious Games” is a dedicated section offered with DiG and includes a series of actual games that simulate real world and invite users to interact and maintain a certain level of sustainability by making rational decisions.

By blending subliminal learning with task-based learning principles and real-life scenarios with optimal decision-making, Intelen creates an unprecedented educational material for DiG, with high prospect for attitudinal change, re-adaption of habits and energy savings.

Of course, DiG users can highly benefit from the “Serious Games”.  It is not just the joyful time that DiG users can enjoy while playing. It is not just the valuable knowledge gained while playing. It is not even the user’s energy bills that will start falling while playing. It is also the multiple prizes that the user can claim while playing.