Overview:

Data visualisation is a way of communicating technical information simply. Through using images complex information can be understood without any knowledge of a particular subject matter. Researchers working on TEDDINET projects have used different types of visualisation to help homeowners to understand how energy is used. Examples from three projects' published work on this subject are provided here.

Key Messages:

  • Intuitive design - Research has shown that well designed data visualisation can increase understanding of energy and lead to reduced energy demand. The best types of visualisation are intuitive and show comparisons between similar homes and do not rely on an understanding of numbers.

  • Standardisation - The standardisation of data visualisation would help understanding of energy bills and enable useful comparisons. This standardisation should be implemented as part of the home energy display linked to smart meters or used in energy billing.

  • Thermal imaging - Thermal imaging has been shown to aid the understanding of heat losses from homes. A national thermal imaging survey would highlight areas where improvements to housing is required and would significantly improve the understanding of the state of the housing stock. This would enable policy to be successfully directed, ensuring its long term success in lowering energy demand and reducing fuel poverty.

  • Example: eVIz

    The eVIZ project used thermal imaging to help make energy loss more real. The images show where homes are poorly insulated and highlight the presence of drafts. Researchers showed thermal images to household occupants and assessed whether their energy use changed. Homeowners who were shown thermal images were more likely to reduce their energy use and invest in draught proofing.

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    Examples of thermal image visualisation used in the eVIZ project

    Example: ENLITEN

    As part of the ENLITEN project, data visualisation was carried out in student accommodation. Researchers tested three types of energy data visualisation by showing energy data expressed numerically, using analogue dials and with emotional faces. Energy use figures were compared with a period where no energy visualisation was used. An average energy reduction of 7.7% was found. Participants responded best to the display which used emotional faces.

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    Three forms of energy use visualisation tested by the ENLITEN project

    Example: REFIT

    The REFIT project produced energy consumption reports to encourage retrofit decision making. Researchers showed homeowners information about their overall energy use and comparisons based on similar homes. Breakdowns showing time of day and appliance energy cost were also used. It was found that due to the low cost of energy, participants were no more likely to invest in energy retrofits. Homeowners did state that discussing the visualisations helped them to better understand how they used energy.

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    Part of the energy consumption report compiled by the REFIT project