Full-service product development consultancy Carbon and design consultancy Artefact unveiled Impact – a suite of four concepts designed to motivate energy-efficient behavior in the home.
A refrigerator door releases a cascading avalanche of cool air the instant it’s opened. As the door of the Impact Fridge is opened, a green efficiency bar of light appears. Leave the door open and the light bar becomes shorter as cold air is lost and more energy will be required to replenish it. Close the door and the light bar slowly grows as the inside air temperature is gradually restored. “The efficiency bar gives you a good feeling of the impact of your actions,” says Buck. “You see how quickly the temperature increases when you open the door, and how long it takes to cool it again.” When the temperature is fully restored, the green bar disappears.
When not in use, the Impact Dishwasher’s control panel lights are switched off. When touched, the control panel comes to life, displaying the setting used. When selecting dishwasher cycle options, you increase the green energy efficiency bar by removing energy-hogging options. “Contextual intervention is key,” explains McColgin. “You need to give people the information they need at the exact moment they need it. This enables them to make better choices and take clear, effective action with minimal effort.” Fitting naturally into how people live their lives was essential. For example, rather than deciding how long you want to delay the start of the washing cycle, you set when you need the dishes to be clean. This lengthens the green bar further by allowing the dishwasher to run when power grid demands are low. When time allows, the door pops open to air dry the dishes instead of expending energy for heat drying.
For those hungry for more information, the Impact App is designed to deliver additional guidance and insight. Socially-generated suggestions from your contacts’ real activity provides actionable motivation to stay on budget. Remote control capabilities allow you to turn down your thermostat and immediately see the projected impact of your actions. Share achievements with pride as helpful tips for friends. Devices and behaviors responsible for causing increased usage are identified with suggestive corrective actions.
While all four Impact concepts are smart grid inspired, in many instances, they aren’t smart grid required. The Impact Clock, Impact Fridge, and much of the Impact Dishwasher functionality could begin reducing home energy usage far in advance of smart grid technology becoming ubiquitous.
As much art as it is an expression of energy usage, the hour hand of the Impact Clock etches usage patterns into the clock face, enabling you to see how your current consumption compares with your history. The inner ring displays usage from midnight until noon. The outer ring from noon until midnight. An “energy fingerprint” of your day-to-day usage is created over time. “We chose an analogue indication for this clock because of its lower power consumption, beauty, and the potential to be an heirloom object, less likely to be discarded,” explains Schoemaker.
“The Impact designs target barriers to behavioral change to illustrate how well-designed interactions can help consumers make better choices about their energy efficient consumption,” added Rob Girling, co-founder of Artefact. The common thread is that you have choice, you have control. The Impact concepts provide you with the information and insight that enables you to make better informed, more energy-efficient choices.