Power to the People

info-graphicGoogle is very much working on ways to stimulate conservation of energy. One of the issues they mention on their blog is that by giving feedback to people it is possible to save lots of energy in homes and offices. Some time ago I was involved in a research study where we looked at research worldwide on this subject. One of the most remarkable ones was a study done in Stavanger, Norway. There it turned out that just by changing the period after which people settle their energy bill (you get a bill every month normally but only once a year the energy company checks if the bill is the same as the real (average) use during the year). They changed the period from one year to two months (meaning the amount used was checked bi-monthly and the bill adapted accordingly). The energy use of households after this went down 8%. Because of the bi-monthly check people where immediately reminded that energy costs a lot during winter. With some extra data the savings grew to 12 to 16%.
This feedback on use can be more fine-grained. At home I am using a plug from plugwise that measures the use of energy of that energy outlet and allows me to test how much I would save by using the built in “stand-by killer” during the night (it is amazing how much energy some appliances use while on standby, my printer uses a whopping 40 watts on standby, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week). An interesting example how ICT can help to lower our energy footprint. Some time ago I also made a blog on a presentation I gave last year.
In Amsterdam we are setting up a project with more than 700 homes where we will be testing what kind of feedback works best (Amsterdam Smart City). Another project I am starting with is the Connected Urban Development where we make it possible to take a look on the energy use in the city and be able to zoom into certain areas, maybe even to an individual level.
The document with the research (like the Stavanger case) you can find here.
It’s the kind of projects that give me a lot of energy!


This is very interesting picture that shows the difference between the opportunities for saving energy between Europe and the USA. I do not think there are many households in the Netherlands that do not use a programmeable thermostat, often even integrated with a outside temperature sensor. This is something we have to keep in mind when comparing research on energy saving between the USA and Europe.

Durability 2.0

iFlickrWe all know we have to be very careful with energy due to the warming up of our planet, dependency on energy from areas in the world you do not want to be dependant on and other reasons. But we also know that it is very hard to find the incentives to stimulate people to save energy here and now. Problem is that there is too much of a time lag between the action to save energy and the advantages acquired.
Recently I held a key note presentation at the conference “Greening the enterprise 2.0“, focused on how to save energy in office environments. Especially in offices it is hard to stimulate people to save energy because they do not have to pay the energy bill themselves. Automatic systems are usually circumvented (people open windows in completely controlled buildings because the intelligent control mechanism for temperature is less intelligent than the maker thought) and therefore seldom delivers the result that we think of beforehand.
And people are lazy. The picture on this post is from my own re-chargers in my office. I once placed a switch there to switch of the electricity. But after two cases of dead batteries that I needed at that moment I always have it switched on.
Focus of my presentation was how to use social networking aspects to stimulate people to save energy. By sharing best practices but also by more direct feedback on individual actions and results (and some peer pressure maybe …).
Here are the sheets.