SUBJECT: M.S. Thesis Presentation
BY: Nicholas Benzoni
TIME: Wednesday, April 12, 2017, 1:00 p.m.
PLACE: MRDC Building, 4211
TITLE: Water Conservation Facilitated by Phasic Feedback Through Smart Devices
COMMITTEE: Dr. Cassandra Telenko, Chair (ME)
Dr. Bert Bras (ME)
Dr. Richard Catrambone (PSY)


On average Americans consume 99 gallons of water at home each day. This is more than six times the necessary amount of water to have a comfortable life, 13.2 gallons per day. This excess usage results in stress on water resources, the consumption of resources for the processing and delivery of water, and simply works to deplete water resevoirs. Despite many technological advancemets, such as low-flow aerators, household water consumption remains much higher than necessary. The underlying problem is human behavior. In order to change behavior researchers have developed a range of intervention systems aimed at creating water conservation. They have achieved savings from 0-28%. This thesis describes the development and pilot testing of a prototype usage feedback device aimed at creating water conservation at the kitchen sink.
Our device was designed after a thorough review of extant intervention papers, and was largely based on the findings of this review combined with other papers about eco-persuasive technologies. The kitchen sink was the chosen point of intervention due to its relatively high visibility throughout the day, and due to the often large potential to save water by adjusting habits. We found that efficient hand dishwashing methods can save up to 80% of the water used by less efficient techniques to achieve the same task.
The key improvement our device has compared with other similar technologies analyzed is the phasic nature of feedback our device provides. While most popular devices in literature and on the market, such as FitBit and Nest, provide a simple usage feedback, i.e. a meter or indicator showing how much water one is using/has used, or “steps taken/calories burned”. Ours does many different things depending on how long it has been installed for.