There have been a slew of energy management announcements recently—just check out other posts in this blog—but it’s one from a do-it-yourself product that has really piqued my interest. Why? It isn’t because it’s for DIYers. It’s because its partner is starting to break new and important ground in engaging users.
The install-youself PowerCost Monitor Wi-Fi version from Blue Line Innovations can send your whole-house energy usage info to People Power, which will display it on a mobile app on an iPhone, iPad or Android-based phone. There’s nothing too special about that, but what People Power is doing beyond the boring energy usage data is providing tools that will better engage consumers.
The app provides comparisons to others in your state or the country, recommendations of energy efficiency products, the ability to upload of your energy accomplishments to Facebook, and the chance to compete by taking energy quizzes.
The quizzes are the really new thing here. And it encompasses the hot new topic among legions of social scientists interested in changing consumer behavior (to be more energy efficient, for example). That topic is gamification. Yes, games.
You take the quiz, maybe do poorly or OK, but you want to do better. So you keep coming back for more quizzes. And before you know it, you understand a lot more about energy efficiency and the issues surrounding it. This has been one of the big barriers to getting people to want to be more energy efficient. They don’t know how to be efficient, or they misunderstand the issues.
Gamification can help educate more people to engage in energy efficient behaviors.
People Power plans to take the power of game playing to a whole new level. The company also provides recommendations on energy-efficient products via its interface, such as LG and Bosch appliances. But People Power founder and CEO Gene Wang also speaks of Eco-Points being used in Japan, where achieving 1 Eco-Point is equivalent to 1 yen, and when accumulated provide the owner of the Eco-Points the equivalent yens as a discount on energy-efficient products.
Get it? Play the game, accumulate points, get discounts on products. See where this is going?
Consumers could become more engaged in energy efficiency by playing the games, while accumulating discounts to buy energy efficiency products.
Want to go even further? Wang looks to “tie the visual world into the virtual world.” In other words, engage the millions of people playing simulated games and using real money to buy virtual things, by creating a way for them “control real things around you in a simulated game.”
Inspiring energy efficiency is becoming more and more interesting. It also promises to get a lot more fun.
People Power’s platform also works with the TED 5000 series energy monitors. But you don’t need a PowerCost Monitor or other device to check out the mobile apps of play the game. The free app is available for iPhone and Android-based phones, and you can use it in demo mode.