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Designing and evaluating an energy consumption competition

promotor: prof. dr. ir. arch. Andrew Vande Moere (KULeuven)

<draft version of my thesis>


Influenced by the climate and financial crisis, households would like to lower their electricity bill for the well-being of the environment and their own wallet. The problem is that users have little insight in their consumption. This thesis investigates a new way to raise awareness by letting households compete against each other in an energy consumption competition. In order to rank first, their electricity consumption must be the least over a certain period. Information about their usage and that of their competitors is visualized inside the homes on either an objective or a subjective display.

The objective display is comparable to many commercial energy monitors: it shows real numeric values in Euro, kWh or watts. However, such units are difficult to understand by users and could therefore be misinterpreted by them. This can be counteracted by developing a subjective display that interprets the facts and tells the competitors directly if they are doing well or not in comparison with their opponents. The elaboration of this principle is done by only using words instead of numbers to visualize the competition.

This clear distinction between two similar looking displays was chosen to gain insight in the kind of visualization that is most suitable for such a social game. The evaluation consisted of two young couples competing against each other for two weeks. The results were mainly interpreted qualitatively due to the limited number of participating people. Besides reporting on the experiment, this thesis also houses a technical part. It describes how open hardware projects and open source knowledge are combined to build the different blocks that are needed to do this study.





  1. Situating residential electricity usage
  2. The Problem
  3. Improved feedback
  4. Motivation
  5. Objectives
  6. Significance



  1. Prior research on feedback displays
  2. Energy savings from residential energy demand feedback devices
  3. Prior research on comparative visualizations with social incentives
  4. Conclusion



  • road to a final subject
  • wireless sensor networks
  • display prototypes
  • soldering / build guide



  • sensor station
  • hub
  • database
  • display
  • drawings




draft of my Master’s thesis title and abstract | Stijn Coppens Labs Februari 3, 2012 at 10:17 am

[…] draft of my Master’s thesis title and abstract by Stijn on January 19, 2012 in Thesis with No comments […]

AminfiBerlin Maart 2, 2012 at 9:34 pm

Fantastic work! I am a code developer of the open energy monitor and I am preparing to launch my own version of it: See-A-Watt in a Kickstarter campaign. One of the functions I am working on is to get a performance indicator on the EmonCMS interface, because most people are illetrate in terms of technical terms: kWh, peak, distribution of load and so on, my idea is to collect data from the members of a community, compute an average and sned back each member feedback on how well he/she’s doing in comparison with the rest of the community.
I think we should take some time to chat about your thesis and my project some time.
PLZ feel free to write me an email.


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