Providing hotel guests with real-time feedback on their energy use while they shower reduces their energy consumption, suggests a paper published online this week in Nature Energy.
Previous studies on energy feedback interventions have relied on volunteer participants, who may be more motivated than the general public to conserve energy, and focused on home energy use, where individuals have monetary incentives to reduce their consumption. Randomly chosen participants with no financial stake in any resulting energy savings are needed to assess whether feedback interventions might help save energy more broadly.
Verena Tiefenbeck and colleagues conducted a randomized controlled trial in which guests at six Swiss hotels - who do not pay for their individual utility use - encountered smart meters fitted to the showers in their hotel’s bathroom. Guests in rooms where the smart shower provided real-time feedback on its resource consumption used 11.4% less energy while showering than those in rooms where only the water temperature was displayed. Based on these energy savings, the authors estimate that smart meters in hotels recover their cost within an average of 2.2 years - which is relatively fast in comparison to other energy efficiency investments.
These findings demonstrate the effectiveness of this easy-to-implement, scalable feedback intervention that has the potential to save both money and energy, with a minimal initial setup cost.