Gamification: A Tool to Build Energy Consumers Engagement

Gamification: A Tool to Build Energy Consumers Engagement

Through its educational virtues and its playful dimension, game is a powerful lever for raising awareness of complex issues. These past years this principle has taken on new importance thanks to the expansion of new technologies. Indeed, whether it is a competition, applications to help people discover a sector, serious games…, the frontier between the playful domain (game) and the serious domain (company or individual management, research, education, etc.) has become blurred. 

More recently, there is a term that has been used especially for those applications which feature elements of games: Winning/losing, challenges and rewards/penalties. This term is gamification and refers to the meeting of the two universes.

DEXMA Energy Intelligence

How is Gamification achieved?

When we talk about gamification, we refer especially to the application of game theory concepts and techniques to non-game activities. They are applications that incorporate elements of video games which can keep users engaged by giving them extra motivation to continue using the app, but most importantly, to achieve certain goals.

A great example of gamification is on educational apps, where users can set a daily goal of a certain amount of lessons to finish.

This system has proven to be very effective for several applications, helping users to not only learn to do something in an easier, interactive way, but to also be able to create strong habits by keeping them motivated to log in everyday and reach the goals that have been set.

Even if nowadays apps are the most popular and effective way of gamifying, non-virtual systems can also leverage the power of gamification, and use apps as a complementary tool.

What is the added value of Gamification in the Energy Industry

The desire, and many times the need for organisations, property owners, companies and larger industries to combat energy waste or to simply reduce the levels of energy being consumed is getting higher as prices of energy and concerns about the state of the environment increase.

When does the energy consumed can be considered a waste is something rather subjective, as each organisation has different needs for the energy. For instance, a manufacturer might need to consume much more energy in a 4 hours shift than a department store.

The difficulty when it comes to determining whether or not there is more energy than needed being consumed, is that this knowledge is not always available, and there is often the fear of cutting the energy used, instead of properly reducing it.

This is where gamification comes into play in the energy industry, by giving an opportunity for users, that is, those consuming energy, to be aware of when their levels of energy consumption are within the proper averages, and helping them to modify their energy consumption behaviours by giving them a sense of achievement.

There already exists tools, and more precisely Energy Management Software (EMS), such as DEXMA Platform which already does a great job collecting the data from smart meters and other devices, and displaying it in an intuitive way so that you can detect inefficiencies, analyse data and optimise your energy consumption.

However, using EMS alone is not always as effective as we would like it to be for saving energy, as energy consumption, and especially energy efficiency still depends a lot on consumers’ behaviour.

Gamifying an energy management software, or implementing already existing solutions that make use of gamification to help users create better energy consuming habits are one effective way that should be further explored in order to achieve those energy efficiency goals of industries and individuals.

4 Tips on how to implement Gamification to increase Energy Consumers Engagement

One big advantage of implementing gamification in the context of the energy industry, is that, even if there are still challenges when it comes to determining when the amount of energy is appropriate or not; the goals are quite clear, which makes it easier to apply rewards and challenges for this.

1. First of all, the organisation or individual should be able to determine how much energy is the right amount to be able to continue doing their activities without needing to alter or reduce their productivity.

2. Once this has been determined, it is now possible to set clear goals on the gamified app or system, and allow users to better track their energy consumption habits and establish effective challenges that can keep them motivated.

3. Sharing results is yet another important factor that can really boost motivation for those engaged in achieving energy efficiency, as this further motivates those participating in the game of energy management, and encourages a healthy competency as well as cooperation between users.

4. The introduction of a virtual currency that can be earned by being constant on the set energy consumption goals, granting users with coins or tokens that they can exchange to get certain boosts, such as earning a discount in their energy bill, fixing a lost streak, or being able to get custom items that makes the experience more personalised is yet another great tool to encourage conservation behaviour.

Overall, it is important to understand the target of the app or system. That is, recognising who are going to be the consumers; which can facilitate making proper decisions on how to implement the gamified solution in a way that more users will enjoy, and therefore, keeping them engaged for longer.

Challenges of Gamifying Energy Consumption

As mentioned earlier, one of the main obstacles of energy management, and therefore, of gamification applied to it, is the fact that energy is consumed in many different ways, by devices with different energy requirements, as well as by many different users’ profiles.

In this sense, this might be one of the first challenges to be faced when applying gamification on the energy sector, as it would be necessary to know certain information beforehand, such as how much do the devices used by the user consume, in order to set appropriate goals.

Also, the overall requirements of a company or industry when it comes to the energy they need is something that should be known, so that goals can be set. Yet this is precisely one of the reasons to use an EMS, because why or where is more energy than necessary being consumed is often unknown.

However, energy management software incorporating gamification can set those goals based on the new insights an Energy Manager gets as more data is collected, making it more effective and also turning it into a scalable solution, which can create a more effective and long lasting engagement.

Leveraging the power of techniques such as gamification, modifying or reinforcing better habits in an engaging way, is one technique to achieve energy efficiency while not purely following rules on consumption, but actually adapting our behaviours for a change.

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