Our household is participating in a study in conjunction with The University of Melbourne and South-East Water, in order to understand water consumption in households. The idea is simple and elegant:

We are interested in understanding how customers respond to real-time feedback from the Amphiro B1 personal shower displays.

From the literature, the concept enough is straightforward. There’s the theory that actively showing the consumer feedback about their water and related energy consumption may have an effect on their behaviours in the shower, and hopefully save water and energy.

The device they send to monitor is the Amphiro B1, which you can check out here. It’s pretty neat, in fact; it’s supposed to show temperature, water consumption by volume, and also calculate the energy involved in heating up the water to that temperature. Except, as a part of the trial… the device doesn’t actually do that.

It only shows water temperature.

In the week that we’ve had this device, I’ve noticed an interesting behaviour in everyone that has used our shower. Everyone that’s used it has been fascinated by the temperature of the water. The device has also helped them to label their preferred temperature; “40”, “36”, and so on. But the interesting thing is that it’s become a bit of a game… and has lead to an increase in showering time as a result. Getting to the desired target means that everyone ends up standing in the shower for extra time, looking to hit that target before they begin showering.

In looking to understand how customers are using their water and energy supplies, the experiment has inherently changed the behaviour of the customers. It really shines back to the old scientific adage that measuring an experiment can in fact alter the result.

It’s entirely possible that this is the desired outcome of the experiment, but I would suggest that increased consumption is probably not the name of the game. So, what kind of driving measure would lower consumption? Probably a consumption measure… 😉

Oddly though, the consumption readout on the device has been disabled in this experimental (or test) mode.

Once the experiment is finished in around 4 months time, we get to keep the device after they have downloaded the data and unlocked it back its usual non-test mode. I am really looking forward to seeing how it affects shower usage and associated behaviours at that point!


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