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.
This study investigates the role of information systems in stimulating energy-efficient behavior in private households. We present the example of Velix, a web portal designed to motivate customers of a utility company to reduce their electricity consumption. In particular, we consider the effectiveness of goal setting functionality and defaults in influencing energy conservation behavior. For this purpose, we use the web portal as a test of the theoretical propositions underlying its design. Based on data collected from a field experiment with 1,791 electricity consumers, we test hypotheses regarding the structural relations between defaults and goals, the impact of defaults and goals on consumption behavior, and the moderating role of feedback on goal choice. Our results confirm the positive impact of goal setting on energy conservation. We show that default goals lead to statistically significant savings by affecting goal choice. However, if the default goals are set too low or too high with respect to a self-set goal, the defaults will detrimentally affect behavior. We also show that feedback on goal attainment moderates the effect of default goals on goal choice. The results extend the knowledge on goal setting and defaults and have implications for the design of effective energy feedback systems. The study’s approach, which combines hypothesis-driven work and design-oriented IS research, could serve as a blueprint for further research endeavors of this kind, particularly with regard to feedback systems based on future smart metering infrastructures.
This collection of essays originated in the Summer School ‘Metaphysics or Modernity?’, which was held at the University of Bamberg in August 2012. Designed as a forum for graduate students in philosophy, the Summer School brought together a highly diverse group of young academics who – more often than not – came from utterly different schools and traditions of thought.
This pluralism is reflected in the pages of this book. While the volume is roughly divided into two halves – one with a more historical focus, the other with a more systematic focus – the reader will find an unusually wide array of topics and questions treated here. Since the aforementioned pluralism was one of the main strengths of our Summer School, this is something in which we take much pride