Project: Usability and Design of ecobee Accessory Products for Residential and Commercial Energy Use

Partner: FedDev ARC, ecobee Inc.
Dates: August 2011 - March 2012
Participants: Stein, J.
Description: This project was a joint venture between the Critical Making Lab (Faculty of Information) and ecobee Inc., funded in part by the Federal Economic Development (FedDev) Agency of Southern Ontario. It explored user experience and interaction with media that informs users of their thermal and electrical energy consumption habits, and their subsequent behavioural adjustments. We were interested in understanding what kids of information users need in order to make effective decisions with respect to their energy use. We ran a usability study on a current state-of-the-art home energy-monitoring device and additional smart plugs and sensors, as well as a ‘critical making’ session (participatory-design style focus group). The latter explored (through participant perspective-taking) issues of rational versus social decision making, user preferences for automation versus personal control, and the role of heterogeneous family dynamics in home-energy management. The findings will inform ecobee’s product development strategies, as well as stimulate development in new problem spaces in home energy management.
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