IHD Simulation 07/09/2012 - 07/13/2012

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IHD Simulation Report – 07/14/2012

This week, the participant was randomly assigned the passive learning condition. While assessing the ranking question, the issue of whether the appliances were "energy efficient" was brought up. Although the rankings would not change if it was assumed all the appliances were energy efficient (or not), we might want to add some text saying that the appliances are standard appliances that you would find in the home. I added two thumbnail pictures, (1) electric hot water heater and (2) electric oven. There were a few participants who had a different interpretation of what they were, so during the next test I will be asking them what they knew the functionality of those appliances. There were also some participants who did not remember that the question text stated to assume that each appliance ran for 10 minutes. The only other way I think we could make it salient would be to put in parenthesis (run for 10 min) next to each appliance. However, I do not think this is that big of an issue.

A lot of participants interpreted the question, when is it most expensive for the utility to provide electricity, as when is it most expensive for the customer. They do not actively think that they consider the fact that higher costs to the utility translates to higher cost for customer. This confusion might be occurring because they read over the question text too fast or it's just an issue they do not normally consider. Despite this misinterpretation, their answers to this question does not change based on that piece of information. Most of the participants, but not all, see the connection between the first time of day question and the second one. Some of the participants, not all, mistakenly interpret the first question as when people use electricity the most. One suggestion is that we make clear that the question is considering all customers. There have been some instances where they asked for clarification for the electricity use question.

One concern I have with passive learning is that participants essentially memorize the answers to the electricity savings ranking questions. I believe that there might be a disproportionate amount of participants, from the passive learning condition, who will score better on these questions than those from any other conditions. This will give the impression that passive learning helps people learn more about energy savings than those who see an IHD simulation, when this really might not be the case. Participants consistently have shown throughout the trial that they learn about the general consumption of each appliance, but cannot utilize that information to develop clear and effective strategies to reduce consumption by 10%. The electricity savings ranking questions would require you to have a good grasp of the consumption numbers to correctly rank each action; participants would need to play with the simulation for a longer period of time or multiple times in order to reach that level. I would not be surprised we would see participants from the passive learning condition score very poorly relative to the IHD simulation conditions on that question if the actions were different for the pre and post tests.

We might want to re-word the answer choices for "predicted reduction by in-home display type." The participants seems to be hung up by the terminology used, and they have a hard time visualizing what the information types that are being shown to them. This was especially true for the participant who had the passive learning condition and did not see dollar or kWh information in the survey at all.