Whether the provision of consumption data visualisation has an impact on energy consumption in rented apartments was investigated in a study by energy anthropologist Babette Peulicke Slott of the Danish Technological Institute. Here you can find out what her findings were and whether visualisations do actually have an effect on consumption behaviour and thus on energy consumption.
In order to achieve the EU’s ambitious climate targets, energy consumption in the building sector must be drastically reduced. However, improving the physical properties of buildings is not enough in itself to improve the energy balance, because the usage behaviour of residents is a decisive factor for a building’s actual energy balance. In a Copenhagen suburb, the study examined whether the use of digital consumption data visualisation can increase residents’ awareness of their own energy consumption, while at the same time preventing the so-called rebound effect.
Use of digital consumption data visualisation in Copenhagen
From December 2016 to June 2019, the study examined whether tenants’ consumption behaviour changed in response to the use of digital consumption visualisation in a district of Danish capital Copenhagen for which the Danish noventic subsidiary KeepFocus provides energy consumption monitoring systems. Displays installed in tenants’ apartments provide them with an overview of their own consumption of heat, electricity and hot & cold water. The possibility of benchmarking their own consumption over time further increases tenants' focus on and awareness of energy consumption. The displays also inform tenants of the room temperature and relative humidity, along with an estimate of the consumption costs incurred as well as tips on and support with optimising their own energy consumption.
Effects of consumption visualisation on energy consumption
The study found that average consumption over the entire study period fell after the consumption data visualisation system was launched. After the energy consumption displays came into operation, cold water, hot water, electricity and heating consumption decreased on average by 17%, 23%, 12% and 17% respectively.
Interviews with residents and observations suggest that visualising consumption has raised tenants' awareness to such an extent that it has led to changes in their daily behaviour. Accordingly awareness of individual consumer data does have an impact on user behaviour.
No difference was found between the average consumption of users who interacted more or less frequently with the system. The visualisation of consumption can therefore lead to a reduction in energy consumption even without a high level of active interaction with the app.
New technologies exploit potential for climate-friendly living
The study shows how relevant it is to involve residents in all energy-saving efforts. Digital consumption displays offer the opportunity to simultaneously raise tenants’ awareness of and reduce their own energy consumption, thereby saving costs and leading more climate-friendly lives.