Problem: Heavy Usage in the US Is Putting Strain on Scarce Resources

Electricity

Natural Gas

Water

The United States is the second highest user of energy in the world, 25%, even though we have less than 5% of the world's population.

20% of the energy used in homes - approximately $40 billion - is wasted.

The United States consumes roughly half of the world's natural gas, 26.8 trillion cubic feet, where 1 cubic foot is approximately the size of 7 gallons of milk.

The United States uses 3.9 trillion gallons of water per month, which equates to 176 gallons per person per day, compared to 5 gallons per person per day in Africa.



"It takes 1.6 Earths to support humanity's demand on nature. But we only have one." - Earth Overshoot

Earth Overshoot Planet


By Reducing Energy Consumption We Can Reduce CO2 Emissions and Reduce Global Warming

CO2 Emissions by Country


Our mission is to drive awareness and conservation of the world’s natural resources through compelling analytics, insightful visualizations, and targeted, actionable conservation recommendations.


The uConserve dashboard is the manifestation of our mission in the form of an in-home wall unit, a website, and a mobile application that allows users to see, understand, and intelligently change their resource consumption habits.

Impact: You Can Make a Difference

Your Choices and Actions Have a Significant Effect





Can you notice a 5% color change?

Can you notice the 5% color change?




You can probably barely see the difference.


"Taking 5% out of your usage does not require much effort, but at scale when we all do it, it has an enormous impact." - Steven Weber, UC Berkeley iSchool Professor

In Austin, Texas Alone

  • Saving Energy

    A 5% Reduction in Power Consumption Could Power 142,000 Homes in China for a Year

    The average home consumes 10,908 kWh per year. If the 350,000 homes in Austin cut back 5%, this would power roughly 142,000 home in China for a year.

  • Olympic Pool

    Reducing Water Use by 10% Would Save Enough to Fill 3,760 Olympic Size Pools

    The average person uses 176 gallons of water per day. If the over 1 million Austin residents cut back 10%, in addition to helping ease drought issues, that would save 2.4 Billion gallons a year - the equivalent of 3,760 Olympic size swimming pools.

  • Cooking Flame

    Reducing Natural Gas Use by 5% Reduces Water Demand and Pollution

    The average customer today uses 40% less natural gas than they did 40 years ago due to more efficient natural gas appliances and efficiency gains. Continuing this decrease, will also reduce sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and as well as reduce water demand.

  • 1 metric ton of CO2 is the size of a two-story house

    Reducing Your Carbon Footprint by 5% Is the Size of 175,000 Two-Story Houses

    A 5% reduction in energy use by Austin residents would be equivalent to 175,000 metric tons of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) or the size of 175,000 two-story houses.

Ideation

We explored existing behavioral and resource research, data sources, and tools. We also interviewed consumers and built a series of prototypes.

Behavioral Research

Behavioral Research

User Experience

User Experience




USER TESTING TO COLLECT FEEDBACK AND IMPROVE DESIGN

We have found that by simply presenting people with clearly understandable data on their energy use relative to a peer group, it has a surprisingly large impact on conservation behaviors. It is not necessary to fine people or guilt them into acting altruistically. We just have to show them what they are doing and give them a few simple things that they can do better.

Solution

Helping People Make Sense of Their Utilities

Based on our research, we designed an in-home wall device allowing the consumer to easily see all their home resource use information in one place and instantly act on the recommendations. With a quick glance while passing by, the user can see in real-time how their home is consuming resources such as electricity, natural gas, and water and act on recommendations that the system provides. He or she can instantly see how much their use changed from the previous day, what the projected monthly costs will be, how their energy use is affecting the environment, and get instant alerts. If a recommendation is made, such as "no need to water, there is rain in the forecast", the system will signal the irrigation system to not water, unless the user decides to change this from the panel. They can also touch any part of the screen to get more details and adjust their usage.

Using the In-Home Dashboard, Web Site, or Mobile Application, the User Could

Click on today's usage to see how they are doing so far

Click on prediction to see how you might do today, tomorrow, and in the near future

Click on end of month bill prediction to see how much you can save with some easy to implement conservation techniques

Automatically adjust their usage or manually customize

See how they are doing over time

Compare their use to similar users

See their impact on the environment

In-Home Dashboard

uConserve Wall Unit

Website

Website Example

Technology

The Underlying Analysis and Demos

Data Sources and Tools

Data Sources and Tools

Forecasting Analysis

Forecasting Analysis

Usage Reporting

Usage Reporting

Next Steps

Future Analysis

Anomaly Detection

Prototype Enhancements

Build out the details for gas and water

Test on additional devices

Test scalability

Future Development

Move from prototype to final product

Add in data from additional sensors and meters

Our Team

Rahul Bansal

Rahul Bansal

Director of Integration Services at The Advisory Board Company

Lisa Kirch

Lisa Kirch

Graduate Student at UC Berkeley's iSchool

Nital Patwa

Nital Patwa

Sr. Principal Engineer at Avago

Credits

Pecan Street Dataport

Electricity, Gas, and Water Data

UC Berkeley MIDS

Support and Expertise

SoftLayer

Cloud Computing Resources

UXPin

UX Design Platform

TED

Alex Laskey's TED Talk

Global Footprint Network

Global Footprint Network

Panatone

Panatone