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NEXIA HOME
ENERGY SAVINGS

How might we provide homeowners comfort without compromise?

To comply with my non-disclosure agreement, I have omitted confidential information in this case study.

All information in this case study is my own and does not necessarily reflect the views of Trane Technologies.

Overview

How might we provide comfort without compromise?​

The goal of this project 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. Resulted in an energy savings feature implemented into the Nexia Home mobile app.

ROLE & DURATION

UX Design Intern

User Research, Design, Wireframing, Prototyping

Team: 2 Designers, 1 Product Manager

May 2019 - Oct 2019

About Nexia

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.

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.

"The residential
energy efficiency
market can
capture roughly

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

- Rocky Mountain Institute

1/3

2/3

of homeowners are satisfied with their home's energy performance

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

Largest satisfaction gap  with in all in-demand home features

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”. Then, we used both qualitative and quantitative research methods to validate and further understand these behaviors and motivational triggers within Nexia users.

KEY 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. 

Design Process

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.

Usability Testing & Validation

After establishing technical feasibility with our team, we conducted three rounds of usability testing on an energy saving's MVP. We were able to recruit a pool of internal users to test our design and iterate as we gathered feedback.

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 

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 2: CLOZE TESTING

Tested 15 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

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

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