Energy in Everyday Life

Before you get down to the business of creating your own
energy-efficient ideas, we invite you to learn more about Energy in Everyday Life: past, present and future.

When did living stop being dependent on sunrise and sunset? How and when did energy-saving awareness campaigns begin to play a role in daily life? What are the energy challenges we are facing today and likely to face tomorrow? And how can we use creativity and knowledge as tools to help us imagine a new future for energy use and turn it into reality?


Redefining Daily Living


For most of human history, energy saving was never an important issue, because the world was unable to get enough energy supply to meet its needs. All that changed with the arrival of the electric light bulb following the advent of electricity. Not only did electricity become an important energy system that everyone could rely on, it also completely changed the way people lived their daily life.

Once people had become accustomed to the convenience of having energy at their disposal, when an energy shortage occurred – because of war, an oil crisis, or more recently, global warming – they were prompted to do something unprecedented in the history of the human race: Start raising awareness about, and campaigning for, energy saving, and designing and creating  myriad ways to combat energy limitations.



Today’s energy challenge has less to do with war, oil shortage or global warming than with the world’s addiction to energy. This addiction fuels us from the moment we wake up until the moment we fall asleep, and grows increasingly powerful at a time when major energy resources like fossil fuels are running out.

As globalization, IT advances and borderless transportation systems all consume vast amounts of energy, and the world economy and society are both driven by energy, will it be enough to secure the future and save the country, the world and the environment if we continue to rely on advertising and PR campaigns alone to raise awareness about the need to “save energy”?

Designing the Energy Efficiency World

The Future

In designing a future world, the challenge lies in getting people to change their views from saving and using less energy to understanding that energy efficiency is the new fuel that will drive the world towards sustainability while the quest for new energy innovations and renewable energy sources continues.

If we think more, do more and imagine more, will we find more ways to generate and store energy from other sources? Or will there be new forms of innovation and service that will allow us to simultaneously generate and save energy in our daily life?

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Energy Efficiency

Energy Efficiency & Design Thinking

Energy efficiency doesn’t simply mean energy saving. Rather, it means using less energy to achieve the same results, quantitatively and qualitatively.

Design Thinking can serve as a tool for creating new innovations and services that make energy efficiency possible. In essence, Design Thinking involves laying out a new framework for the problem, posing a hypothesis, gathering data and evidence, finding a pattern in those data, posing questions and then finding a viable conclusion within the established scope.

Now that we understand that saving energy doesn’t necessarily translate to energy efficiency, let us use Design Thinking to find ways to make energy users voluntarily reduce their usage, and to accomplish that without requiring them to give up the lifestyle to which they have become accustomed.

People, Problem, Insight

Understanding Energy Personas

To understand household-sector energy users’ attitudes, needs, behaviors, perception and experiences in energy usage, we utilized Design Research Tools including observation and in-depth interviews to gain insights from research participants. We then used research data to create 6 Energy Personas, whose perspectives and lifestyles reflect different values and energy-use behaviors.

Get to know our Energy Personas, whose stories will help you create efficient, diverse and comprehensive energy ideas.

The Big Spenders
The Planet Lovers
The Energy Seeker
Mr. Efficiency
Ms. Go-with-the-Flow
The Opportunist
Energy = Comfort and Convenience

The Big Spenders

Middle-aged couple and their teenaged children, a boy and a girl, live with their housekeeper in a large house in the suburbs with a full range of amenities and appliances.

For the Big Spenders, comfort always comes first. It is little surprise, then, that each of them thinks nothing of wasting energy on their activities of choice, which they will do anytime they please. Leaving the lights and air conditioning on is no big deal; what matters is physical and emotional comfort. The mother of the family wants to control the energy consumption at home, but there is nothing she can do given the lack of cooperation from the rest of the household, who never give a thought to how much their monthly energy bill costs.

"My husband usually tells the housekeeper to turn on the air conditioning at 7 in the evening, but he doesn’t come home until 9. I say ‘This is no good.’ Just think how much the electricity bill costs!"
See Energy Idea
Energy = Expense

The Planet Lovers

Hipster couple, both 28, work in design and creative jobs, live in a central-district low-rise condo surrounded by greenery.

The Planet Lovers associate energy, a complex issue, with the environment. Not only do they have a strong conviction that energy will never run out if we use it in an environmentally friendly manner, they also live and breathe sustainability. Both enjoy posting and sharing energy-saving tips with their friends and leading others in activities designed to reduce energy use, from taking up bicycling to switching to  “green’’ fabric shopping bags to planting trees. It will be even better, however, if they would understand that driving their hybrid car to shop for organic produce at their neighborhood store every weekend doesn’t really do much for their energy-saving cause.

"Our eco lifestyle means using energy efficiently. We choose a hybrid car because it consumes less gas and helps reduce our carbon footprint."
See Energy Idea
Energy = Expense

The Energy Seeker

Female college student, 20, moved to the city for her studies. She pays for everything out of her own pocket, including rent, food and her daily commutes. The more time she spends at her dorm, the higher her energy bill.

The Energy Seeker depends on the Internet for her studies and work as well as for news and social- media entertainment. What she needs is a place where she can sit and work, watch a movie or listen to music, with power outlets for her notebook, mobile phone and power bank, unlimited free Wi-Fi and free air-conditioning. Even if she has to shell out for food and drinks at such a place, she feels it’s worth it and better than going home to her dorm and driving up her electricity bill.

"If I spend a lot of time at my dorm, my electricity bill will go up that month. It’s better to go to a coffee shop and do my class assignments there. I have to eat and drink, anyway."
See Energy Idea
Energy = Catering to Your Lifestyle

Mr. Efficiency

Overseas-educated architect and energy expert, 38. Grew up in a family that knew how to design and plan their daily energy use. Has solid knowledge and understanding of energy efficiency.

For Mr. Efficiency, his energy usage must fulfill all of his lifestyle needs, including comfort, spending objectives, happiness and peace of mind. So he uses hi-tech gadgets to plan his transport route and mode before leaving home. To him, driving, carpooling, bicycling or using mass transport is all fine as long as it is the best way to fulfill his needs.

"I never say no to technology use or energy use, if using it brings maximum benefits. This is the way I live."
See Energy Idea
Energy = Doing What Everybody Else Is Doing

Ms. Go-with-the-Flow

Government-sector employee, aged 35, lives in a large Government Housing Authority flat. She believes wholeheartedly in the energy information she gleans from radio and TV and from the first-hand experiences of her colleagues and neighbors.

Ms. Go-with-the-Flow’s energy use behavior is influenced by the media and people around her. She believes it when others say something is good, and she will do what others say she should. Not only does she take it upon herself to make sure that air conditioning is turned off during lunch break as per the office circular, she also doesn’t hesitate to turn off all the lights in her home for one minute as per the light-out campaign she heard about on TV. Using appliances that her friends use or recommend gives her the same feeling of fulfillment and confidence as seeing a TV commercial plugging an appliance’s cost-effectiveness.

"I use this iron because my friend gave it a good review. Every brand of iron now carries a No. 5 power-saving seal."
See Energy Idea
Energy = Cost Effective

The Opportunist

Boutique hostel owner, 40, sees energy use as an investment. Accurate news and information is essential for making the right decision in a business driven 24/7 by energy.

The Opportunist educates himself about energy. He has run the numbers on the returns he can expect from upgrading his building to accommodate efficient alternative energy systems. Cost-effectiveness and returns on investment are key considerations for him. But although big energy bills indicate high occupancy at his hostel, he doesn’t shy away from putting Reduce Global Warming stickers on guestroom light switches. That might put a little dent in his electricity bill, after all.

"This isn’t about conscience. In business, it’s all about numbers. Am I interested in saving energy? Yes. Am I for the environment? Yes. But first of all, I mustn’t lose money."
See Energy Idea
Design Innovation

Design Innovations & Energy Ideas

The experimental ideas, innovations and services you see here are part of many examples that reveal the possibility of harmoniously incorporating energy efficiency into everyday life.

Automatic Comfort Control

Nest Thermostat

To ensure that the home air conditioning  system is responsive to the homeowners’ behavior, Nest Thermostat is designed to learn the homeowners’ patterns of use and then use the statistics it has collected to adjust the temperature inside the home to fit the homeowners’ lifestyle. Nest utilizes multiple sensors to determine the number of people in the room and uses that to decide whether to turn the air conditioning up or down, or whether to turn it on or off without the homeowners’ having to lift a finger. The device also displays electricity usage and temperature in real time via an application. Nest Thermostat uses technology by Nest Lab, which is owned by Google’s parent company, Alphabet.

Learn more about Nest Thermostat

See Persona
Envisioning Energy as a Service

Energy Area Map

Conceived as a response to the public’s growing energy addiction, the Energy Area Map makes energy availability its selling point. The map provides information on the numbers of power outlets and Wi-Fi hotspots at area coffee shops alongside information on food, beverages and service. Users can use the information to make decision, leave a review and rate the establishments they have visited, making the map a solution for both business owners and customers. With Energy Area Map, electricity becomes a worthwhile add-on service to the shop’s food and beverages offerings. The Map is an idea gleaned from TCDC’s Survey of Discourse on Energy Sharing in Public Spaces and Media-Assisted Campaigns.

See Persona
Compete for Efficiency


Designed to make energy saving fun, OPOWER encourages participation via competition. The platform promotes energy efficiency by allowing users to compare their energy use with similar households’. Using apps and software to connect the electricity meters of all households in its network, OPOWER also provides monthly usage rankings. Created by a software company that caters to energy providers in the US, OPOWER is a collaboration between engineers, information scientists, designers and psychologists and draws on a basic human trait: competitiveness.

Learn more about OPOWER

See Persona
More Tangible = More Manageable

Home Smart Home

Conceived as a way to make the cost of energy more visible and easier to understand, the Home Smart Home concept connects all facets of living with electricity – appliances, home electricity meter, payment system. The system can be used to control home appliances, check each appliance’s energy usage in real time and even pay your electricity bill via a smartphone app. It can be installed in a housing estate to create value-added for the development and increase the energy efficiency of all the homes in it. The Home Smart Home system is the brainchild of the Design Thinking Energy workshop, organized by Thailand Creative and Design Center (TCDC) in cooperation with HUBBA Thailand.

Learn more about “Design Thinking Energy” workshop

See Persona
Chances for Success

Energy Lottery

Catering to Thais’ love of games of chance, the Energy Lottery concept adds a lifestyle incentive to the idea of energy efficiency. Participants can take the money they save by cutting back on their electricity use and spend it on the Energy Lottery, which entitles them to win cash and non-cash prizes. Winners are found through monthly lottery draws, which are broadcast on TV to motivate the public to adopt more energy-efficient lifestyles. The Energy Lottery concept is a product of the “Design Thinking for The Future of Thailand Energy” workshop by Thailand Creative & Design Center (TCDC).

Learn more about “Design Thinking for The Future of Thailand Energy” workshop

Customized Solar Insights

Project Sunroof

Project Sunroof aims to make information about solar energy investments more accessible to the public and increase confidence in such investments. It is designed to connect with the Google Earth satellite system and draw on information from its aerial maps database to calculate and display the exact amount of sunlight a home or building receives each year. The system also runs calculations on the cost-effectiveness of investing in home solar panels and offers information on nearby solar panel providers as well. A pilot project by Google, Project Sunroof is being developed and tested in several locations around the U.S., including Boston, Fresno and the San Francisco Bay Area.

Learn more about Project Sunroof

See Persona
Travel Efficiently


To help users get to their destinations in the most efficient way possible, HERE Maps is designed to calculate the fastest way to get from point A to point B. The smart mapping application displays information and traffic routes visually and audibly, and provides up to 4 route choices to allow users to switch to a less congested road if they run into traffic jams. HERE Maps is available offline, so users can pull traffic info and statistics from the cloud without having to connect to the Internet. HERE Maps is designed by Nokia.

Learn more about HERE Maps

Designed for Maximum Efficiency

Circular Economy Lightbulb

Technology can lead to better efficiency. The Circular Economy Lightbulb was conceived not as a product but as a service. The innovative idea of charging a fee for upgradable LED lights stems from the fact that the manufacturing of these lightbulbs involves a complex process and use of rare raw materials, and that at the end of their life, the bulbs tend to be thrown out rather than recycled. By design, the Circular Economy Lightbulb features a removable core and internet connectivity. When some part needs to be replaced, an efficiency upgrade will be delivered to the customer. A prototype concept by the UK design studio The Agency of Design, the Circular Economy Lightbulb is funded by Innovate UK.

Learn more about Circular Economy Lightbulb

See Persona
Design Thinking Toolkit

Become a Design Thinker

It is time to brainstorm and explore new ways to energy efficiency.

The key to concept development is jointly building on the ideas and opinions of all the people involved. Exchanging ideas and working together as a team not only leads to a sense of ownership but also opens the way to the co-creation of new ideas that directly answer existing needs.

TCDC Design Thinking Workshops

“Design Thinking for The Future of Thailand Energy,” a workshop by TCDC, and “Design Thinking Energy,” a workshop by TCDC in cooperation with HUBBA THAILAND, provided ample proof that diversity and a user-centric approach are vital when you get energy users, designers, entrepreneurs, energy service providers and energy experts in the same room to learn and create new energy ideas together using the Design Thinking process.

Don’t forget to share your energy-efficiency ideas on Facebook Designing Energytopia or submit them in person at the Information Counter, TCDC or TCDC Chiang Mai.