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Lights Out at MIT. A study in motivating and measuring energy-efficient behavior change"

by Josh Hester, MIT student. 17/07/09


 Josh Hester
With today’s concerns about climate change and
economic recession, it is essential for every large
business and organization to scale back on their
energy consumption. While it is helpful to make
new buildings as “green” as possible and it is
possible to install more energy efficient fixtures
and appliances in buildings, the most basic and
direct method of reducing our energy
consumption is to change our behavior.
Something as simple as being more
conscientious about turning off the lights can
lead to significant savings. The Lights Out project
is a pilot project in two of the buildings at MIT to
determine the effectiveness of computermediated
feedback mechanisms to cause this
behavior change. Cameras were installed outside
these buildings to monitor the overnight usage of
lights, and a program was written to analyze the
camera images and send weekly emails to each
lab director with a summary of their lab’s energy
usage. Initial data from September and October
2008 indicate that this feedback did led to some
reductions in overnight lighting use.

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