'Energy Battle' game leaves students in the dark

Researchers tested students in the Netherlands to see how far they would go to use the least amount of energy in a game with a cash prize.
Written by Amy Kraft, Weekend Editor

How do you get students to become more energy efficient?

Give them a game with a prize of $1,000 in kitchen appliances, of course.

Researchers at Delft University of Technology did just that. They recruited 20 student households in Rotterdam to play a month-long game called Energy Battle, to compete against one another to see who could cut their energy consumption the most.

Teams were given energy meters and access to a website where they could monitor their energy usage and see how it compared to their competitors. A second part of the game involved building an interesting structure online using virtual building blocks, which teams procured for reaching certain energy-saving milestones.

The winning team cut its energy use by 45 percent, with an average cut of 25 percent across all teams.

Although the game did help some change their behaviors--some participants maintained the habit of turning off lights before leaving rooms--the study showed that students did not necessarily participate for the environmental benefits.

Msnbc reports:

While the energy savings achieved during the game are impressive, it was the chance to win kitchen gadgets, not trim energy bills or save the environment, that compelled the students to be energy thrifts.

When the 'Energy Battle' ended, consumption levels in all monitored homes crept back up to just below where it was before the game started, the research team from Delft University of Technology recently reported in the Journal of Design Research.

Now the team of researchers are working on how to tailor the game for other target groups. So if you'd like to cut your energy consumption [or win some money] it might not hurt to see if they're recruiting.

'Energy Battle' game spurs students to hand-wash dishes, study in the dark [msnbc]

Photo via YouTube/Shifft

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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