Together with co-creation specialist 100% Open, the energy company E.ON has issued a challenge for the best idea to a home energy makeover. Such contests are not new, but the approach they used is very interesting. In 2012, the companies started a crowdsourcing project for a five-part documentary called Home of the Future. In this documentary the Perera family from Sheffield is filmed while experts install new gadgets or other projects to safe energy. The documentary focuses on the need for future energy efficiency, environmental-responsibility and saving time and money. Examples include domestic power stations and waterless washing machines. Next to this, future technologies are assessed in how useful and cost effective they are in a real world situation.
However, the most interesting part was actually not the series. It was the community E.ON created where customers or viewers could submit ideas for gadgets on how to make the house more energy efficient. Ideas would be tested for their savings and commercial viability. The best idea for a home energy makeover was rewarded with 10.000 pound and four runner-ups received a prize of 2.000 pounds.
In the end, 1600 ideas were submitted through the community. Runner-up ideas included adjusting the timing of energy generation gadgets like solars power so that they would peak when energy consumption is highest. Also, another idea proposed was to install sensors that would track the condition of the house and send notifications or call the repair man. The winner of the contest came up with a great idea on how E.ON could help society by detecting unusual patterns of energy use. Unusual patterns might suggest problems with users and the system could alert family members or care workers. The winning idea and the runner-ups were sent to the research and development department of E.ON and are expected to market anytime soon.
As a last, the family created a top 5 of gadgets that they liked the most in their futuristic home:
This new model of innovation is very interesting, because it is a very different way of interacting with consumers. E.ON used co-creation to get new ideas and engage customers as well as keeping costs for the competition low by crowdfunding the documentary. As Harwood of 100% Open stated: of “It’s a win-win collaboration between E.ON and the public to deliver new products and services faster, cheaper and better.”