How Utilities Can Use Gamification to Change Charging Behavior
Historically, utilities have faced the challenge of low enrollment rates when implementing electric vehicle (EV) Time of Use (TOU) programs. When EV owners are requested to pay an additional delivery charge or install a second meter at their own expense, it can feel as though there is little incentive to join the program – this is where gamification comes into play.
What is Gamification?
Simply put, gamification is using elements of game design and game principles and applying them in a non-game context. The main reason for applying gamification is to improve user engagement by relying on people’s competitiveness, desire to learn, need to socialize, etc. Gamification often uses rewards to engage users and can be offered in different forms, such as points, levels, and/or achievement badges. These rewards are based on elements of game mechanics and can be applied individually or a combination of any. According to Bunchball (the market leader in gamification), there are ten primary game mechanics.
10 Primary Game Mechanics
- Fast Feedback
- Using onscreen notifications, text messages, or emails to encourage users to keep participating regularly. Through positive reinforcement, such as congratulating a user for reaching a goal, they can be encouraged to continue to the next reward
- Users know how they are doing and how they measure up against other users in real-time. Metrics can be customized for every program
- Use short-term and long-term goals to challenge the user and give them a purpose for interacting
- Used as reward for meeting a certain target and becomes more meaningful when others users understand the value
- Leveling Up
- Leveling-up shows achievement and gives the user status in the community. By leveling-up, a user can gain new badges, activities, rewards, etc.
- People can learn by doing in a more compelling way and are engaged from the start
- By showing users how they stack up against others, you create competition and encourage ongoing participation
- By allowing users to work together on a larger goal, competition increases and so does knowledge sharing. Team members need to see how they are contributing to the group’s success
- Creating a community allows for better communication and can help users learn about other goal, badges, and rewards – increasing their participation
- Allows people to keep score so they can measure their success. The points should be used to let users purchase virtual or real goods.
How We’ve Applied Gamification To EV Charging
Our SmartCharge Rewards program completely eliminates the need for customers to install a second meter. Our initiative is a plug-and-play incentive program for utilities to help shift electric vehicle charging to off-peak hours and create manageable load growth – without the hassle and cost of installing a submeter. It’s designed to help EV owners reduce the cost of charging and enhance electric grid efficiency and resiliency – making service more reliable for everyone. This program is based on a study we completed in Toronto, Canada with EV owners called Charge TO.
All participants receive access to our app & portal, unlocking advanced EV stats from their vehicle. They’re also invited to join our SmartCharge Champions community, where they can share stats and experiences with other like-minded EV owners. To encourage user engagement, we introduced achievement badges that educate users and reinforce positive charging behaviors. Take a look below for a brief description of each badge.
Peak Avoidance (Multi-Part Badges)
The 6-part peak avoidance badges were designed to reward users who do not charge at all during on-peak hours. These badges work great to help encourage users to not charge their EV during peak times in the summer (or winter) when demand on the grid is at its highest.
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Level One: Charging Peak Buster
You’ve done it! You’ve managed to avoid charging your EV during peak times for an entire month. You can now claim the title of “Charging Peak Buster.” Not only are you reducing strain on the grid, you are also getting rewards for charging during off-peak hours. Don’t forget to share your accomplishments on social media.
Level Two: Peak Streaker
You are a smart charging wizard! You’ve managed to charge your vehicle off-peak for 2 months and earned the title of “Peak Streaker,” well done. Clearly, you need more of a challenge – can you make it another month?
Level Three: Super Peak Streaker
Amazing, you’ve made it 3 months without charging during peak hours! You are now a “Super Peak Streaker.” You should be proud of your accomplishment because we sure are. It’s obvious you like a challenge, so we have just that. Make it 1 more month to earn your next badge.
Level Four: Ultra Peak Streaker
You’re actually the best! Congratulations on becoming an “Ultra Peak Streaker.” You’ve managed to avoid peak charging for 4 months, not many people can say the same. Make sure everyone knows how great you are and share this accomplishment on social media.
You are an environmental superstar and have earned the title of “Tree Planter.” By having a minimum of 40,000g of GHG emission savings, you’re on your way to making our world a healthier place. A little tidbit of knowledge: as a tree grows, it can consume up to 48 pounds of carbon dioxide per year.
Top Off-Peak Charger
You can’t be stopped! Your ability to charge off-peak is incredible. Rightly so, you’ve been named a “Top Off-Peak Charger.” You’ve managed to charge your vehicle off-peak for 80% or greater of total KWh.
Top Eco Driver
You’re on top of the world… or at least the competition! Congratulations on earning your “Top Eco Driver” badge. This means that you are in the top 10% of MPGe for every single vehicle in the program. Make sure you share this badge on social media so that all of your friends and family know how great you are.
You are a rewards earning champ! Your ability to earn rewards is mind-blowing, that’s why you’ve been named a “Top SmartCharger.” To get this badge, you had to be in the top 10% for rewards earned out of all vehicles in the program. What are you going to do with all your rewards?
Implementing gamification into EV charging to encourage better charging behavior is beneficial to both the utility and the customer. By adding badges and/or incentives to the program, it creates a fun way to keep users engaged and encourage better results. Additionally, badges can be completely customized to your program and customers. The SmartCharge Rewards program is evolving and growing to meet the needs of our customers and their unique users. When combined with rewards, badges are sure to keep users engaged and can grow infinitely by adding new levels and challenges.