Energy Conservation Training Implements Targeted for the Low Income Population

Accivatti, Martina, Elizabeth Hardy, Christina Haviland, Carl Bolofer, Elijah Kafer, and Halima Salaam

In colder climates, the low income inner city population finds itself in a precarious position. Often, this subset of the overall population lives in older housing units that are not energy efficient. This is also the subset of the population that cannot afford to pay high heating bills. There are some non-profit organizations that are set up to educate and train people in easy and low cost techniques to slow the hemorrhaging of thermal energy. Working with one such center in Detroit, this team of students developed a virtual computer-based interactive energy conservation guide that supplements an actual physical model showing the energy loss in a house. These were termed the Virtual Fully Interactive Trainer House (or Virtual FIT House) and the Scale FIT House, respectively. The Virtual FIT House is an internet (or CD-ROM) based guided discovery tour of a typical house with dialogue boxes and pop-ups that convey hints and easy tricks to save energy. The Scale FIT House is an actual four square feet model of a house covered with thermally reactive paper. Each of the four sides has varying levels of insulation. As the house is heated, the thermal paper indicates the areas of heat loss and then the audience is asked to assess the reasons. The team will show both Virtual and Scale FIT Houses.