The Energy Challenge'D: Crowdsourcing for Energy Efficiency

Shriver-E_HR_.jpgCEE understands that efficient technologies alone will not save energy. Consumer behavior plays a role in energy consumption, so our program design incorporates use strategies from behavioral psychology. We also like to use social media and other communication channels to educate about energy! In this post, Minnesota Energy Challenge Coordinator Emma Shriverand I explain our latest experiment: The Energy Challenge’D.

Several recent projects have demonstrated how online crowdsourcing can solve problems, share resources, and spread enthusiasm. Scientists at Carnegie Mellon and Stanford developed a game that allows everyday people to help discover RNA design principles, mushroom hunters around the world contribute to an identification guide, and anyone with internet access can take a survey supporting research to prevent the common cold.

So... could we use crowdsourcing to gather energy data or encourage efficiency?

Project strategies

Use social norms to draw attention to wasted energy.

“The first thing we think you need to do is wake someone up to their unconscious behavior” - Ann Head, Vice President of Shelton Group

41a.gifMany people do not realize that their behavior is not in line with their beliefs. To help people realize this you can draw attention to the idea that the current behavior is against social norms, and ultimately their beliefs. This creates an uncomfortable feeling which often motivates behavior change. Along with using social norms to change behavior, shaming has helped motivate healthy eating in certain cultures. The Energy Challenge’D uses shaming mildly. Similar to your friend tapping you on the shoulder to ask “hey - why are you doing this?”

This is important when promoting energy efficiency behaviors since many people support energy efficiency in principle, but have a hard time actually adopting new behaviors.

Take a lighthearted approach to engage a wider audience.

When we focus too much on the bad and negative situations we stop learning how to fix them.  

One way we are making this project lighthearted and approachable to a wide audience is to host it on the Minnesota Energy Challenge website. Over the past six years, the Energy Challenge has made personal connections with homeowners throughout Minnesota with its fun and usable design. 

We are also incorporating an interactive and competitive component. To conclude the project, we’ll ask participants to vote for the ultimate Energy Challenge’D picture.

Provide resources to guide and empower energy actions.

ice-dams.jpgThe Energy Challenge’D will draw attention to programs that the general public may otherwise ignore. But once a building operator or homeowner recognizes energy waste, does he or she know what to do next? 

CEE’s programs are designed to eliminate the barriers to making energy improvements. The Energy Challenge’D website will link to information or programs to help solve the wide range of energy efficiency issues highlighted in the photo submissions. 

Care to contribute?

  1. Snap a photo of Energy Challenge’D things you see throughout your day and share them with us withFacebookTwitter, or e-mail (! We will share them on our Flickr page for everyone to see.
  2. After the photo submission deadline you will have a week to vote for your favorite pictures in the categories of commercial, transportation, and residential. (When the voting opens we will add a link to this page.)
  3. Remember, this isn’t ALL fun and games. Make sure to check out the solutions page to find out how CEE can help you become more energy efficient.


Related posts:

Online Engagement for Energy Savings

Tracking the "Look" of Energy on Pinterest

Anatomy of the Energy Drips Video

Image credit: 

Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  by  James Cridland

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