Reducing their energy consumption has become an important
objective for many people. Consumption transparency and timely
feedback are essential to support those who want to adjust their
behavior in order to conserve energy. In this work, we propose an
interactive system that provides instantaneous feedback concerning
the energy usage on household and device level. For that, we
used and extended the capabilities of a smart electricity meter,
built a web-based API to enable interoperability with other applications,
and developed a mobile phone interface that allows users
to monitor, control, and measure the consumption of single appliances.
Our system illustrates a way how usage barriers can be
lowered and how high user involvement can be created. By providing
users the electricity feedback needed – in real-time and on
device level – the system allows for identifying the biggest energy
guzzlers and helps users decrease their energy consumption.
Information and communication technology (ICT) consumes energy, but is also an important means of conserving energy. Conventionally, it has done so by optimizing the performance of energy-using systems and processes in industry and commerce. In the near future, ICT will also play a critical role in supporting the necessary paradigm shifts within the energy sector towards more sustainable electricity generation. However, with the advent of "smart" technology from the field of ubiquitous computing, further ways of reducing growing levels of domestic energy consumption are now emerging. With this in mind, we discuss how getting consumers "into the loop" can achieve energy savings on top of the efficiency gains resulting from automated systems, and we describe a prototype application aimed at inducing behavioral change by providing direct feedback on household electricity consumption.