Apps may be the next facilitator of energy education, but the challenge is to make them functional and easy to use for the masses.
From home automation to bill management, our association with the electric systems in buildings is mainly based on the use of applications. In 2019 energy-saving software is no longer a novelty, and app stores are full of solutions to help consumers manage electricity usage in the most virtuous way.
Panoramic Power, Eco-eye, Energy Watchdog, EnergySaver and CodeGreen Energy are just a few examples among the dozens of recently developed applications that try to meet this need.
Andrea Benetti, home automation consultant and collaborator of the Master in domotics and mobile applications of the University of Pisa in Italy, confirms: “An app must be able to respond to the needs of users, and be part of their daily routine.”
But the path is complicated, according to a scientific paper about tools to promote energy savings, most apps are used to monitor electricity and gas consumption rather than to lower them. Or, at least, this is what happens after the initial learning period.
According to Daphne Geelen, who was the lead author of the paper that appeared in the Energy Efficiency magazine, the main suggestion is that “the apps should be more effective with information that is actionable and meaningful with respect to the specific situation and goals for the household”.
Benetti commented: “At this historic time, from the hardware point of view, it is difficult to enter the market with an innovative product. This is because there is no empty space to fill and nor are there any major technical improvements possible.
“From the software point of view, the real challenge is to understand how to build an application that large numbers of people could really use. In other words, to design an app that stimulates curiosity, and that offers something tangible and quantifiable, like lower costs.”