Raising awareness of power consumption through user-friendly visualization and interactive competition

By the system of annual billing of electricity, in practice it is not possible for the user neither to draw conclusions from his current behavior, nor to control his influence on the power consumption. This means that consumers can only guess which patterns of behavior have a low or high impact on the electricity bill. The consumer faces the challenge of developing a quantitative sense of electric energy.

Objective of the research project
It is necessary to understand the short and long term effects of our behavior in a direct and quantified way. This is possible with the aid of a sufficiently disaggregated total current, since the data made available to the consumer directly allow drawing conclusions about his behavior. The objective of the research project is to raise awareness in dealing with the resource of electricity. The everyday use of electricity should become more tangible, more conscious and more quantifiable for the consumer. The result of the project is to provide a simple but effective tool to quantify one's own power consumption via easily understandable visualizations.

The basic work steps to achieve the research project were divided into the following areas:

  • Data provision
  • Data processing
  • Data visualization

The installation of readable electricity meters allows further processing of the data in a meaningful degree of detail. Using readable interfaces on the meters, the power consumption is taken, translated into usable energy units (kWh) and transferred to a database for further processing. These steps can be implemented holistically using a programmable controller board (minicomputer).

To process the data, a suitable server for data storage and visualization was set up at the chair. In order for the data to be transferred, processed and finally visualized in a further step, the development and programming of a data logger program (controller board) as well as the creation of a database (server) was obligatory.

For the visualization of the data, a web application was developed for the research project, which enables cross-system display on almost all network- or internet-compatible devices (such as computers, laptops, smartphones, etc.).

As an initial view (dashboard) of the visualization concept, an interactive annual calendar was developed and implemented. All further detailed views (e.g. day view, weekly view, monthly or yearly view) are directly accessible. At the same time, it is very easy to identify low-consumption or high-consumption days on the basis of different daytime colorations.