Nexia Energy Savings

2019 UX Design Internship

**Due to contractual obligations, some of the information below is obscured &/or missing.**

Overview

Four month internship project focused on using machine learning to increase energy savings while maintaining comfort in the home. Resulted in an energy savings MVP implemented into the Nexia app, a home automation product of Trane Technologies. 

HIGH LEVEL TIMELINE

9 Weeks

MY ROLE

UX Design Intern

About Nexia

MAKE OF TEAM

Cydney Phan
UX Intern

Nexia is a home automation product owned by Trane Technologies. Through the mobile app, homeowners can connect and control devices inside of their homes. I was focused on the residential climate unit of Nexia which was focused on using smart thermostats to control & monitor HVAC units inside of the home.

KEY GOAL

Develop UX

for energy savings
feature in Nexia app.

Problem

How might we provide comfort without compromise?

Our design challenge was to find a way to involve homeowners in reducing their energy usage as a part of the larger sustainability commitment of Trane Technologies to reduce 1 gigaton of carbon emissions by 2030. 

Research

Market Research

As stated by the Rocky Mountain Institute, 20% of carbon emissions come from residential homes, while HVAC (heating, venting, air conditioning) units account for a whopping 54% of household energy consumption. With 2/3 of the home energy consumers underwhelmed with their current home energy efficiency, even if the consumers wanted to reduce their HVAC energy consumption, there are little or ineffective options currently in the marketplace to satisfy those needs.

 

When Nexia enters that market with its new energy savings feature, the potential to succeed is immensely higher because the market is still not oversaturated with products promoting energy-saving features within their home automation systems. This allows for a larger consumer segment to cater to, with a lucrative potential of a $144 billion revenue growth– as provided by the Rocky Mountain Institute.

1/3

2/3

of homeowners consider their home's 
energy performance a top priority

Largest satisfaction gap  within
all in-demand home features

only 1/3 of homeowners are satisfied
with their home's energy performance.

"The residential
energy efficiency
market can
capture roughly

$144 billion
by improving
performance of
single-family homes."

- Rocky Mountain Institute

User Research

What motivates our users?

Jumping into the research phase, we wanted to understand what motivates our users in terms of their energy usage and comfort. Through literary reviews of academic research, we uncovered three primary behavioral patterns that motivated pro-environmental behaviors: a value of environmentalism; a motivation to save money; and a motivation to reduce “waste”.

Cost - Savings
97.8%

Waste - Hate
87.85%

Earth - Concious 
83.85%

Then, we used both qualitative and quantitative research methods to validate and further understand these behaviors and motivational triggers within Nexia users. Our research revealed several insights:

 

  1. While users often wanted to save money & reduce their energy usage, there was a lack of visibility into their current behavior. Even though they’d like to save money, they didn’t know how to do this without compromising their comfort.
     

  2. Users would change their behavior in order to save money, but they were not able to see the effects of these behavior changes. It was hard to tell the difference over time. This led to short-term behavior change that did not last.
     

  3.  Users wanted to feel like they had control over their system. Digging deeper into this, we found that users lacked trust in their system. 

Ideation

Data Visualization & Energy Savings

After an ideation session, we related our problem of Energy savings to the problem of screen time. The problem was similar because both had to do with behaviors that were hard to understand and therefore hard to modify. Apple solved this problem in several ways: data visualization allows users to understand their behavior and set limits. It also allows them to track their behavior change over time and provides visibility. 

 

Within energy savings problems and hypothesize that by providing visualization into homeowners' behavior and then giving homeowners the ability to limit their usage around different units that they valued we could reduce the energy usage of homeowners.

Design

Wireframing

After establishing technical feasibility with our team, we began rapid research on an energy saving's MVP. We were able to recruit a pool of internal users to test our designs .

Round 1: Interaction
 

Tested 9 Individuals

 

Control: Content & Visuals

Variable: Interaction & Concepts

Results: Slider Interaction was most relevant to testers (5/9)

 

Established Pain Points

User does not understand energy savings feature

Slider not always obvious 

Usability Testing

Round 2: Language
 

Tested 10 Individuals

 

Iteration: Intro screens, hierarchy

Control: Visuals, Interaction, Icons

Variable: Language

Results: More understanding of energy savings feature

 

Established Pain Points

  • Slider not always obvious

  • Some confusion with wording

Round 3: Cloze Testing
 

Tested 15 Individuals

 

Iteration: Language

Control: Visuals, Interaction, Icons

Variable: Language

Results: Words that resonated with users
 

 

We were finding that users were still having difficulties recognizing what the energy savings actually did. So to better understand what type of words would hold the most salience for our users, the design team hosted various session to test using the Cloze Method: a fill in the blank format of our low fidelity screens. By having the users fill in the blanks with what resonated to them the most, we were able to pinpoint how to better structure our UX writing.

Round 4 & 5: High-Fidelity Designs
 

For user testing sessions round 4 & 5, we tested our high fidelity screens and finalized mockups. Because of the high sensitivity of these finalized screens, I'm not able to show them for this case study.

 

Tested 17 Individuals Total

 

Iteration: Color, Language, Hierarchy

Variable: Final Screens

Results: Color and contrast hierarchy allowed for great success in users identifying the slider

(Cannot show high-fidelity designs due to NDA)

Solution

1. Choose Energy Savings Settings

Interactive Slider allows user to

see how much energy they'd save

compared to their current usage.

The slider also gives them control

to choose how much energy

they'd like to save. 

2. Build Trust with System

The system checks in with users periodically to make sure they are comfortable while they're home is saving energy. By getting to know this behavior, the system is able to tailor to the homeowner's needs while it builds trust. Over time, these check-ins become less periodic.

3. System Recommends Changes

The system is aware of the home's occupancy, user's location, and other behaviors. In order to give the user control,

it recommends times to save energy based on the behaviors it notices.

4. Monitor & Track Behavior

Data Visualization allows the user

to have complete visibility into their

system's energy usage. They are

able to monitor changes to their

behavior overtime.

5. Make Adjustments

The user is always in control, and 

they can make adjustments or turn

off energy savings at any time.

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© 2023 Kenzie Barden