Most people would say they want to save money, and the average American spends 21% of their money – by far the largest percentage – on housing-related costs. These costs are divided into fixed expenses, such as rent and property taxes, and variable expenses, such as utilities. People also want to be more sustainable and environmentally friendly, with 85% expressing a desire for an eco-friendly home. However, it is difficult for people to find the knowledge and motivation needed to be eco-friendly. Decreasing utility consumption is one of the easiest steps towards achieving both decreased financial costs and increased eco-friendliness.
There are currently many barriers to efficient utility usage, amongst which are a desire for convenience, an absence of personal responsibility and accountability, a lack of conscious thought about usage, and delayed feedback. Our design solution addresses these problems by assuming that technology exists to enable a “pay what you use” system - that is, utilities are split not evenly but based on individual use - and then focusing on an informational, ambient hub that aims to use the social implications of such a system to create a sense of individual responsibility. The design also focuses on increasing the frequency and availability of information as well as awareness of what is currently being used and by whom.