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Water saving tips, peer pressure, and gamification: long-term behavior change and rebound effects from a long experimental trial
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  • Andrea Cominola,
  • Matteo Giuliani,
  • Andrea Castelletti,
  • Piero Fraternali,
  • Andrea Emilio Rizzoli,
  • Joan Guardiola
Andrea Cominola
Technische Universit├Ąt Berlin - Einstein Center Digital Future

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Matteo Giuliani
Politecnico di Milano
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Andrea Castelletti
Politecnico di Milano
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Piero Fraternali
Politecnico di Milano
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Andrea Emilio Rizzoli
Scuola universitaria professionale della Svizzera italiana
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Joan Guardiola
Global Omnium
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Demand-side management strategies based on customized feedback have proved their worth in supporting water conservation efforts and behavior change programs. Several studies in both the water and energy sectors report of observed short-term savings deriving from feedback-based programs and awareness campaigns, often based on smart metered data and high levels of customization in presenting information on resource usage to users in the form of past consumption, real-time information, peer comparison, analogies, and resource saving tips. Yet, feedback-based programs are often run as part of experimental trials with a limited duration, and their effectiveness is therefore only evaluated for a short time span, potentially overlooking rebound effects. Assessing the long-term effect of feedback information on behavior change is still an open research question. In this work, we analyze the long-term impacts of a smart-meter fed gamified ICT platform providing customized feedback to water users, which was deployed starting in 2014 in a long experiment trial with over 200 users of the Global Omnium utility in Valencia (Spain). The platform core is a data-driven demand management pipeline that enables water utilities to foster consumer engagement and promote water conservation via customized feedbacks. It includes customized water saving tips, peer-comparison of water usage, and a reward program based on gamification tools and mechanisms. After three years of development and testing from 2014 to 2017, the platform has proven to be very effective in the short-term, when a user is engaged. A 5.7% volumetric water use reduction among Global Omnium users was achieved after the first year of full implementation, along with a 20% approximate water consumption difference with respect to non-platform users. Here, we analyze the smart meter data of the platform users, respectively after one and two years from the end of the funded platform trial period, to assess long-term behavior changes and rebound effects on different groups of platform adopters.