Social Interactive Energy Consumption Feedback

Working group

Michael Baeriswyl, Thorsten Staake


We developed an energy efficiency website called Oscar in cooperation with a Swiss utility company to provide the company’s customers with feedback on their electricity consumption and to support them by presenting them with energy-saving tips. The website serves as the basis for an energy-saving campaign for the company and is available to all household customers, who can easily register online. To promote the website, the utility company informed its customers via its customer magazine and collaborated with a local media corporation that placed ads in newspapers and the news websites. Oscar combines energy record-keeping with game-like tasks. Customers receive bonus points that encourage them to read their electricity meter on a weekly basis and enter the readings online. The meter readings are checked for plausibility using an algorithm the utility employs to prevent incorrect data input in self-reading processes used for billing. Once the second meter reading has been entered, Oscar calculates the corresponding energy consumption figures and provides each user with feedback intended to stimulate energy conservation (see Figure).

Since September 1st 2011, more than 12’000 customers have joined Oscar, and they entered more than 40’000 meter readings. The average time spent on Oscar is about 6.5 minutes. To assure the reliability of the meter readings, we used multiple strategies. First, we instructed participants regarding where to find and how to read the electricity meter. Then, we implemented algorithms intended to verify the validity of the meter readings. For example, if a participant had entered a negative value or a meter reading lower than the previous one, he or she would receive an error notification. Additionally, we determined the validity of the self-reported data for a subset of customers. Finally, we compared the yearly energy consumption figures for 2010 and 2011. It was expected that the resulting correlation would confirm the validity of the self-reported data.