Changing Individual Attitudes to Climate Change

The majority of individuals have no clear idea of the effect and impact their own energy consumption behaviour is having on climate change. So far, attempts from the side of energy suppliers to convey this information to their customers have proven ineffective. The Sense4EN project aims to communicate this information through smart metering and mobile based applications. This will make users aware of their consumption attitudes while actively engaging them, allowing them to interact and respond to their personal use of energy. If individuals make a conscious effort to reduce their energy consumption, significant reductions in carbon emissions can be achieved. 

The climate change issue

Households currently account for 30% of global energy consumption and 39% of European energy consumption. Energy efficient technologies alone cannot deliver substantial energy savings. Rather, individuals play a prominent role, as along with a willingness to invest in energy efficient technologies, behaviour and daily routines must change in order to mitigate climate change.

The project solution

The Sense4EN project addresses individual attitudes to climate change in an entertaining and interactive way. Many people are oblivious to their ecological footprint and regular energy suppliers do not have yet the means to supply this information. The solution must be effective, but also cheap enough to enable capillary distribution. The Sense4EN project uses a digital interface consisting of mobile applications and smart meters to engage consumers and encourage them to reduce their energy consumption. Live information updates and recommendations enable users to make mitigation decisions at that exact moment, focusing on the attitudes most critical to consumption. This technology also allows users to share information through online outlets and provide feedback to their energy suppliers. With this information, energy suppliers can produce customer-specific solutions for reducing cost and energy consumption.

An Online competition, an Innovation Slam encouraged competitors across Europe to contribute ideas and innovations for apps and web based games that aim to reduce user energy consumption. While inspiring and fostering innovation directly on the market, this competition has informed the Climate-KIC network about the simmering activity in the field of smart metering of new generation.

A prototype will be supplied to a large energy provider, enabling a market analysis on saving potential and current energy usage. This will grow understanding of how to change individual energy usage behaviours. The results will be incorporated into an interactive game, allowing users to realise their individual impact on the global footprint, giving them an incentive to change.

The Sense4EN project has developed two prototypes which are currently undergoing trials. Firstly, the smart meter Amphiro a1 shows warm water consumption during showering. It also shows the user’s consumption environmental impact through an animation with a polar bear standing on an icecap. The icecap melts gradually depending on the volume of water used, until it eventually melts completely and the polar bear sinks. Amphiro a1 is powered by a microturbine and requires no maintenance. Within Sense4En, 10,000 households have adopted a1 and their warm water consumption has decreased by 20%. Secondly, sensors installed in the user’s apartment measure the parameters most relevant to room heating management and in-door air quality. On the base of these measurements, an app engages the user in saving energy for room heating while securing good quality in-door air. Gaming and social interaction enriches the app and support engagement through comparison and competition with peers.

The role of Climate-KIC

Climate-KIC offers a vast network of partners who provide the opportunity for knowledge exchange and research collaborations. It has helped to bring the right partners together, making the project goals achievable. Climate-KICs funding and business expertise has helped elevate the project to another level.

“The unique attribute of Climate-KIC are its business-oriented conventions and workshops. They help researchers understand the needs and the attitudes of the relevant markets.” , TU Berlin