Research and Development of Short Energy Conservation Feedback Mechanisms

Albright, Keith, Zachary Bolton, Ryan Byrne, Mikhial Pasic, Mark Sommerfeld, and Daniel Zinser

Human behavior is rather complicated and transcends levels of knowledge and education. Left unmotivated, the human psyche is able to justify all manners of behavior. One motivation for "good behavior" is the continual reinforcement of a short feedback loop. One example is the instantaneous fuel consumption gauge on the dashboard of some vehicles. That constitute a short feedback loop and leads to behavioral change as the driver sees the immediate results of his/her actions behind the wheel. The long feedback loop of going to the gas pump and filling up with gas has proven ineffective for most people. There are very few if any short feedback mechanisms to help people make the right decisions about heating their house. Part of a pilot Product Entrepreneurship class, this team of students is developing ways to give people instantaneous feedback about things such as projected energy bill, projected carbon footprint, etc… The aim is to balance the built-in feedback mechanism of body temperature, thus countervailing the tendency of turning the thermostat up versus putting on a sweater. Besides the psychological motivation behind this work, the team will present a market and feasibility analyses for potential products and services that will help people make better household everyday decisions. In particular, the team will present the design plans for one such system.