How Games Can Help You Lower Your Energy Bill

I’ve written numerous times about so called ‘serious games‘, which all have a higher social purpose and allow players to contribute to society whilst also having fun.

These games cover everything from environmental awareness to scientific research.  The latest effort, from CitySmart, Queensland University of Technology and BCM in Australia, aims to encourage players to reduce their energy consumption.

The game, called Reduce Your Juice, consists of three distinct games that are designed to help low-earners to keep their energy bills down.  Each game revolves around three core energy-efficient behaviors: turning down air conditioning, using cooler water for the laundry, and turning off appliances when they’re not being used.

Energy efficient gaming

The first game, called Temperature Defender, is largely based upon Space Invaders.  Players are challenged to keep the room temperature at 24 degrees, and can use a combination of fans and air conditioners to do so.  The aim is to highlight to players how efficient it is to use fans in combination with air conditioners.

The second game, known as Fully Loaded, tackles the water temperature of your laundry.  The aim is to pick cool items rather than hot ones.

The final game is large inspired by Whac-A-Mole, and challenges players to keep their energy usage low by turning off switches as quickly as possible.  The message is that appliances use energy even in standby mode and collectively they can add up to a considerable wastage.

The team hope that the games will change behaviour more effectively than simply relaying energy efficiency messaging to people.  They believe that games induce various sensations that encourage the knowledge to stick.

When players have been interviewed, they revealed that the games stimulated discussion within the family and increased their motivation to be energy efficient.  Parents were especially pleased at the impact it had on their children.

The game also appears to have had an impact in real terms too. The final federal report for the Reduce Your Juice campaign showed that participants, on average, had:

  • cut energy use (kilowatt hours) by 12.3% relative to the previous year
  • saved an average $A219.28 on annual energy bills
  • improved energy habits (behaviours such as turning off switches, washing in cold water, keeping air con at 24o) by 22.5%

This means that for every dollar invested in the game, it returned $2.02 back, thus suggesting the game has made a strong case from a social, financial and environmental sense.

It’s an interesting story and will hopefully encourage others looking to change behaviors to consider the impact ‘serious games’ could have on their endeavors.  Check out the video below to see the games in action.

The Reduce Your Juice games are available for free on iTunes and Google Play.