Energy Literacy: How can design massively reduce the demand for energy in buildings?

Energy leaks
Energy Leaks

We've found some startling things in our time. A radio that used energy even when it was completely off, a kettle that was using enough energy to run a big-screen TV to keep the water in it 'warm', heaters accidentally left on in warm weather, even little standby lights that use as much as an energy-saving lightbulb. These things go on everywhere, 24 hours a day; once you can see the 'leaks' in your home, you'll find it's easy to plug them.

What about the politics?
What About the Politics

Governments all over the world are agreeing that energy-efficiency is essential, and are putting policies in place to help people become more energy-literate. For example, in June 2006, Tony Blair announced that the government were 'committing to reduce government's total emissions from buildings by 30 percent.'

Some feedback on MorePower

'The products being developed by More Associates are far and away the most innovative, well thought out and make best use of design and communication knowledge to engage consumers and deliver behaviour change.' - Ed Reed, Energywatch.

Towards resource-literacy
Towards Resources Literacy

MorePower is an enabling technology, fitting our overall mission to develop resource-literacy across populations. Resource-literacy will allow everyone to become active and informed participants in the production, use and re-use of resources. In the medium-term, a resource-literate population will be one of the central assets of any nation hoping to manage the challenges of energy-security and resource-dependence projected by every major government in the world.

It's a language thing
It's a Language Thing

Normal people don't think in terms of megajoules and kilowatt-hours, and that's as it should be. People care about things they can relate to, and the MorePower visual language is designed to let non-expert users quickly and easily understand the messy world of energy-use without becoming boring energy geeks.

Meters and bills
Meters and Bills

Recognising patterns is one of the best ways for people to learn new things. Sadly, the feedback available to people about their energy use is either inaccessible and hard-to-read on meters, or hopelessly late in bills. That makes it impossible to recognise any patterns, and difficult to understand anything about energy. MorePower systems give their users feedback within a second of their actions wherever they are, letting them naturally incorporate the effects of their behaviour, with no need to feel guilty.

It's all in the mix
It's all in the mix

Buildings use all kinds of resources, and they are all interacting. Water, electricity, gas are always flowing into your home, and the patterns change from house-to-house, and from person to person. Your gas boiler quietly uses electricity, and your washing machine might use your boiler to provide its hot water. Our systems integrate all these resources into one simple, legible view, so you always know exactly what your house is up to.

Who's using MorePower?

Sector-leading organisations like The Design Council, Solarcentury, Sanyo, Foster and Partners and Lambeth Housing are choosing MorePower.

In the press

MorePower is beginning to be mentioned in the press. Have a look at BBC online or The Independent

Energy Literacy

Energy use in buildings accounts for nearly half the UK's carbon emissions, and as much as 40% of the energy we use in our homes and offices is wasted. It's hard to blame people for this. Most people would prefer to use only the energy they need - but at the moment that's a very difficult trick to pull off.

The main problem is obvious: energy is invisible in use, and it's bound to be difficult managing something that you can't even see! Also, it's hard to get excited about things you don't understand and can't visibly affect. As a result, energy-efficiency has traditionally been quite a hit-and-miss kind of hobby that can also be a bit dull. We set up More Associates' energy-communication programme specifically to help people to effortlessly understand energy, allowing them to easily save money, reduce their energy-consumption, and help the planet by reducing their carbon dioxide emissions. All without having to become energy-efficiency experts.

We've built a fully functional technology platform for communicating energy use to people, called MorePower. We've designed a formal language that makes it easy to talk about, visualise and understand energy use. And we've implemented this platform in a number of working installations, showing how - when people are given the tools to understand energy - they can and will use it a lot more effectively.

MorePower products

We've developed two prototype products based on the MorePower platform. Both products are designed for high performance behavioural efficiency and overall demand-reduction, while being easy and enjoyable to use. They are appropriate for use in corporate, SME and government offices, domestic trials and demonstration 'homes-of-the-future'. They help people to easily gain a deep understand of the connection between the way they use things and how they manage to get through so much energy! Normally, people either don't think about these things at all, or they have to guess, and these guesses are often very far off the mark. When you can actually see where your energy goes, you can focus your attention where it's most rewarding.

MorePower Single helps users to see the patterns of energy-use in their lives.

MorePower Single is designed for those situations where it is appropriate to use one energy-flow to represent the whole property. The display gives users all the information they need to see when they are using more, or less, than they think, giving them the opportunity to refine their expectations and discover energy 'leaks', and fix them!

MorePower Multi, the simplest way of seeing exactly where all your energy's actually going!

MorePower Multi gives users much more sophisticated feedback, providing separate information for each device in the building, helping users to see where all their energy is going, so they can quickly and easily focus their behaviour-change efforts in the most rewarding and cost-effective areas. The system works with things that make energy too, like solar panels and wind-turbines, and it will help you to use this energy to best effect. MorePower Multi is perfect if you want to become truly 'carbon-neutral', giving you the level of detail you need to shave off every last watt!

The MorePower products are available on a build-to-order basis. If you'd like one, get in touch by email or by calling 0207 841 8904.

The MorePower platform

MorePower is a sophisticated prototyping platform for monitoring, processing and displaying energy supply and demand data. We can quickly and cost-effectively generate new designs to fit with the specific energy-efficiency needs of our clients.

While MorePower is designed to be very simple in use, it can do some complex things when need be: In addition to collecting specific high-quality data on user behaviour, the platform can communicate with micro-generation appliances like solar PV, solar hot-water, wind-power, and ground-source heat pumps. It can monitor electricity, gas, water and other resource flows, and deliver energy-management services to other key systems (like central heating). Where appropriate, we can sense and correlate environmental factors like external and internal temperatures.

Using MorePower, we can cost-effectively develop, build and test new energy-display designs - either for a specific use scenario, or in preparation for a full design-for-manufacture process.