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The Element: Shedding a light on energy consumption

The ElementIn the paper “Visualizing Energy Consumption of Radiators,” authors Magnus Gyllensward, Anton Gustafsson, and Magnus Bang consider how to make the energy used in heating a home visible. They developed a radiator made entirely of light bulbs, which responds to temperature changes in a room using sensors. The main aim of the research was to explore designs for energy awareness and to “clarify the abstract phenomenon of electricity.”

The Element was constructed from 35 60-watt light bulbs, which are attached to a frame between two panes of tempered glass. More details on the piece’s construction can be found in the paper. It works by slowly starting to glow in response to a drop in temperature in the room, and gets increasingly brighter as more heat is being generated.The authors point to the educational nature of the tool, as the “climate in the room is in this way portrayed and the users can see the consequences of various activities such as opening the windows.”

The researchers interviewed 10 people after exposing them to the Element. Most had a hard time understanding the piece to be a radiator, rather than some kind of modified lamp. However, once it was explained to them, many of them suggested it would serve as useful as an indicator of changes in the local temperatures, and serve as a reminder of energy consumption and conservation. Morevoer, they found the piece to be very pleasing in appearance.

Source: Gyllensward, M., Gustafsson, A., & Bang, M. (2006). Visualizing energy consumption of radiators. In Persuasive Technology (pp. 167-170). Springer Berlin Heidelberg. http://soda.swedish-ict.se/3930/1/Persuasive_2005.pdf

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