The January 2015 issue of “Environment and Behavior” includes a report by Stanford University’s Byron Reeves and colleagues about an online game on Facebook that encourages energy-efficient behavior. The game, called Power House, requires players to go through a virtual home to do tasks like washing the laundry and making coffee while saving as much electricity as possible. This can be achieved by turning off appliances and lights, for example, while using too many appliances at once can cause circuit shorts. The researchers worked with California utility provider PG&E to recruit 51 adults for a field test. The participants completed tasks within Power House during 10 total game sessions over 17 days, during which their household energy use was tracked by PG&E. Reeves and colleagues reported a 2 percent decline in household energy use during the game-playing period in comparison to consumption measures a month before and after. The researchers concluded that, “the prospect of even low single-digit reductions in electricity usage across potentially millions of game players would likely justify the expense of building and marketing an entertainment product that cost only thousands of dollars to produce.” To encourage long term use, Power House now allows players to log in via their PG&E account in exchange for a chance to win a year’s worth of free electricity. | Read More