Project Overview

Welcome to the uci@home research project. We are an interdisciplinary team of researchers from the physical and social sciences at University of California Irvine, led by Professors David Kirkby (Physics, Astronomy) and Daniel Stokols (Psychology and Social Behavior, Planning, Policy, and Design). The focus of our research is on integrating principles of behavioral science with cutting edge technology and design to improve energy decision-making in the home.

Please see our presentations page for more information and links to some of our recent work. Feel free to contact us with inquiries.

People consume energy, not appliances. However, our actions that influence energy consumption do not generally have energy-related goals:

Since electricity is an invisible resource, we typically consume it without any tangible feedback. The primary goal of the uci@home project is to design a monitoring and feedback system that is effective in informing our decisions and reshaping our habits.

Previous research on residential energy use indicates that effective feedback is:

  • specific,
  • frequent,
  • compelling, and
  • motivational.

We have developed a flexible hardware and software platform to enable different feedback strategies to be tested and compared. The system consists of a wireless network of "smart powerstrips" that communicate with a central hub:

Each plug-in device monitors the ambient temperature and lighting conditions, as well as the real-time power consumption of devices plugged in to the powerstrip:

Residents receive two types of feedback. First, each plug-in device provides instantaneous audio and visual feedback. Second, the hub presents the data collected throughout the home on web pages that are accessible via the home's computers and even smart phones:

 

 In addition to the uci@home feedback system described above, our projects have included:

  • Energy use and perceptions survey.
  • Content analysis of pro-environmental behavior in magazines.
  • Meta-analysis and methodological review of residential energy feedback.
  • Typology of energy feedback devices.
  • Trust, acceptance, and backlash in smart meter deployment.