The problem of how to facilitate the reduction of home utilities consumption is not being adequately addressed by current products. This problem needs to be addressed to have an impact on the existential threat facing our planet. I want to ensure that users understand Earth’s resources have a value and that value only increases as they become more scarce. Changing the behaviour of users to create a better future while saving money is the goal of this product.
Residential energy use represents the third largest sector of global consumption. Over consumption is having a devastating effect on our planet. Reducing energy consumption reduces the amount of carbon dioxide that is released into the atmosphere.
Knowing which utilities are being used, when and where they’re being used, drastically improves the impact individuals have on the environment. Using artificial intelligence, this data can be disaggregated into specific appliances or faucets where it starts to have a profound effect. The image shows the electricity usage of a washing machine over the course of a load.
My ideation primarily focused on form, proportions and area of use. Possible shapes, screen sizes and button placement were explored. This helped when it came time to make prototypes and models for user testing.
Using sketching and Illustrator, wireframes were developed. With InVision, these wireframes were used to create a working prototype that was later implemented during user testing.
Rapid prototyping allowed me to make changes to my design and have the result very quickly. This was useful when creating the mechanism that clamps the device to the wall. The final appearance models for the year end show were all 3D printed. They were covered in Drydex, sanded, primed, painted and clear coated before being displayed. Needless to say that 3D printing was essential for this project.
Prototypes were created to test feedback given by the device. Light and form were used to deliver feedback. After obtaining ethics approval I tested various forms and user interfaces. From this I gathered insightful information that helped shape my design.
Change behaviour is easiest in the moment. A 21% reduction in energy consumption is possible with lighting feedback when compared to numerical feedback on a thermostat. When utility use is high, the device glows red to encourage the user to reduce their consumption.
The key feature of this product is its ability to monitor all utility usage in the home. The sensors monitor water, heat and electricity consumption, then sends this information to the hub and application where the information is displayed to the user.
To ensure simple installation, dogleg clamps are used to secure the device to the wall. The user simply insert the back-plate into the wall and tightens the four screws. When the screws are tightened, the clamps press against the drywall, holding the device in place.
Thermostat Wire Clips
The device is powered using existing thermostat wiring, allowing for easy installation and no extra wiring. The labels on the clips ensure the wires are installed correctly. The level helps users ensure the back-plate is aligned properly during the installation process.
Since the device is mounted in-wall, most of the components are hidden. To accomplish this, dogleg clamps were used to secure a back-plate to the wall. The internal components are attached to the bezel and snap-fit to the back-plate, allowing for easy removal.
After user testing was complete, information on users preferences were gathered. Users preferred the feel of an analog track-pad to change temperature but wanted a touch screen for easier navigation of information. These elements were then implemented.
The mobile app allows users to connect to the Home Utility Hub remotely and monitor/manage their utility consumption as well as control their thermostat.