Energy demand management using real-time feedback (with ewz)

Research question: Effectiveness of behavior-specific real-time feedback, underlying mechanisms


Partners: EWZ(utility company), Swiss Federal Office of Energy (and hardware provider Amphiro AG)


Principal investigator:  Verena Tiefenbeck


Data collected: Measurement data from smart shower meters installed in 697 Swiss households (customers of ewz), survey data


Budget: CHF 120’000 from SFOE + devices funded by ewz


Timeframe: field deployments: Dec 2012 – Feb 2013








Water heating is the second largest energy end use in households, and yet hot water conservation is rarely promoted as a strategy to reduce residential energy consumption. In this completed project, we provided real-time feedback to individuals on their energy and water use in the shower. We had been able to win the utility company ewz as corporate partner in this project and our research activities in this project were funded by a grant by the Swiss Federal Office of Energy. A total of 697 one- and two-person households participated in the two-month randomized controlled trail. To the best of our knowledge, the study is the first larger field experiment worldwide that uses behavior-specific real-time feedback to promote resource conservation. The results show that this approach reduces both energy and water consumption for the target behavior (showering) by 22%. Projected to one year, the savings amount to 215 kWh of heat energy and 3,500 liters of water per person. This is five times as much energy and eleven times as much carbon dioxide as with interventions providing broad feedback about electricity use to the same population of participants (Degen et al. 2013).