PowerHouse

Gulf of Maine Research Institute

How do you enable and empower students and their families to tackle the real world challenge of home energy use?

We successfully partnered with the Gulf of Maine Research Institute and its team – including Central Maine Power, Department of Energy, Tilson Technologies, and the Maine Math and Science Alliance – to allow students access to their home electricity use data through the PowerHouse platform, and to provide the educational supports and visualization tools they need for learning and prompting behavior change.

We built an open source Drupal 7 platform using contributed and custom modules that allows the site to serve as a bridge between Central Maine Power’s personal household energy usage API and Maine’s 7th and 8th grade students. Secure communication, and strict adherence to COPPA regulations satisfied all privacy concerns. A charting module aggregates and displays data for each household, and allows comparisons with similar households. A special management platform for teachers allows them appropriate control of their students’ accounts.

 

The experience

  • Students and their families connect their Central Maine Power Energy Manager accounts to the PowerHouse site. They log into a personalized PowerHouse profile page to access their household electricity use by the hour, day, month, and year using bar charts and line graphs. Students can add notes to the graphs, and export their raw data to a spreadsheet for deeper analysis.
  • Students see the carbon dioxide output of the kilowatt hours they’ve used, and can compare these numbers to households similar to theirs.
  • Students are prompted to look for patterns, to make evidence-based decisions about how and when electricity is used at home, and to consider how they might decrease their electricity consumption over time.
Click for news article detailing national recognition of PowerHouse