AWARE@home: Profitably Integrating Conservation into the American Home

EPA Grant Number: SU831870
Title: AWARE@home: Profitably Integrating Conservation into the American Home
Investigators: Skerlos, Steven J.
Institution: University of Michigan
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Phase: I
Project Period: September 30, 2004 through May 30, 2005
Project Amount: $9,983
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2004) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Challenge Area - Information Technology , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , Waste Reduction and Pollution Prevention , P3 Awards , Sustainability


While American households are the most resource consuming in the world, they are unlikely to become more efficient users of public utilities because of: 1) large time delays between utility use and the receipt of utility bills; 2) the inconvenience of personally checking and recording gas, water, and electricity meters already existing in their homes; and 3) a generally poor understanding regarding the relationship between individual actions taken at home (e.g., adjusting the thermostat, water heater control, etc.) and the potential for personal cost savings in the long term.


This project will develop an information gathering and reporting tool that will allow households 1) to monitor their own resource consumption patterns in real time and on-demand, and 2) to quantify in terms of cost (and environmental emissions, if interested) the impact of specific energy conservation actions taken at home without more effort than clicking a single icon on a computer screen.


Given the existence of metering technology in the home already, we will focus on developing very inexpensive electronics and wireless technology to bring this metering information to a personal computer in real time. We will estimate real-time costs for the end-user that will allow conservation actions taken at any point in time to be reflected in the current month's energy, gas, and water bills (rather than one to two months later, which is too late to motivate change in general). For advanced users, interested in both cost and environmental impact reduction, the software interface will allow the homeowner to monitor his or her utility usage rates and determine the optimal ways in which a homeowner can adjust his or her usage to reduce cost (children could also be given such assignments in school, in effect allowing students to educate their parents). For such advanced users, we will also design simple "wireless plugs" that will allow wall outlets to communicate with the same system, so the impact of specific appliances on overall energy consumption can be monitored if desired.

Expected Results:

This project will develop information and hardware technologies that will allow all U.S. households (people) willing to participate in a simple energy conservation program to both save money (prosperity) and reduce environmental impact (planet).

Supplemental Keywords:

waste minimization, decisionmaking, conservation, monitoring, measurement methods, RFA, ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY, Scientific Discipline, TREATMENT/CONTROL, Sustainable Industry/Business, POLLUTION PREVENTION, cleaner production/pollution prevention, waste reduction, Sustainable Environment, Energy, Reinvention, Technology, Economics, Technology for Sustainable Environment, Environmental Monitoring, Ecology and Ecosystems, energy conservation, waste minimization, clean technologies, green design, consumption pathways, environmentally friendly technology, computer models, education, incentives, clean technology, ecological design, environmental conscious construction, green building design, emission controls, monitoring environmental emissions, energy efficiency, innovative technology, real time energy monitoring, monitoring resource consumption, outreach and education, environmental cost analysis, green technology, environmentally conscious design

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Project Description