PowerAid: A Smartphone Application for Smarter Energy Consumption: A Study of Energy Consumers' Motivation and Technological Needs
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Smart meters enable a range of possibilities to provide consumers with information about their power consumption. This thesis investigates the motivations behind how consumers use electricity in their households, and what technological needs they have associated with energy usage. The thesis presents an overview of previous research and existing solutions, as well as a user study with prospective users with smart meters installed. Based on this qualitative research, a mobile application called PowerAid has been developed and evaluated through several iterations. To determine whether the application succeeds in fulfilling the users' needs and requirements, a set of evaluation methods has been conducted, including focus groups, usability testing, and acceptance testing. The thesis will describe the architecture, design and implementation of the PowerAid application, in addition to presenting and discussing the evaluation results. The PowerAid application includes traditional information such as historical consumption statistics and electricity prices, but also tries to incorporate ideas from two recent trends: gamification and social media. The application is intended to make consumers more aware of their electricity consumption, and, as a consequence, motivate energy saving. The results show that people are very different, and with such a diverse user population it is difficult to generalize from this rather small sample of informants. However, the thesis provides a broad insight into what motivates energy behavior, and how PowerAid has solved some of the expressed needs. It is clear that the consumers want and could benefit from having a solution like PowerAid, but some of the game and social aspects were met with mixed receptions. The application needs further development and evaluation before concluding to be a success.