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    CSIRO recruits ‘citizen scientists’ to help in valuable energy research

    Geraldine Chua

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    The CSIRO has released a new app to the public as part of its research into better understanding how households consume, generate and interact with energy.

    The app, CSIRO Energise, is part of the national science agency’s Energy Use Data Model (EUDM) project, with the data collected expected to help guide research and decisions concerning the country’s energy future.

    For example, solid data will be able to help overcome information gaps around how much households pay for energy, what is driving these costs, and how to reduce these costs—and consumption—into the future.

    "We know the way Australians use energy is changing, but it's important for us to know how quickly, and what's driving that change," CSIRO Energy Director Dr Tim Finnigan says.

    "CSIRO Energise will help fill missing pieces of the puzzle with robust, objective data in areas where our knowledge is lacking. This will ensure that CSIRO can continue to drive the innovation that guides an affordable, sustainable and reliable energy system."

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    EUDM Fact Sheet: The CSIRO’s Energy Use Data Model is a new, integrated system that captures and collates changes in the way Australians are using energy. The data will be publicly accessible through a central online platform, and not only measures consumption, but also key demographic and technological facets of Australian consumers.

    Unlike traditional consumer surveying platforms, such as focus groups and large-scale mail-outs, CSIRO Energise will send users a range of micro-surveys covering their general household characteristics, tariffs and power costs, energy-usage patterns, appliances and uptake of renewables.

    The app will track users' responses over time and ask questions in response to specific events, such as how air conditioning was used on hot days, and how that can then improve understanding and management of peak energy consumption.

    "With CSIRO Energise we can ask important questions at critical points in time, for example in the wake of an extreme heatwave or unexpected blackout," project leader Dr Adam Berry says.

    "Getting this information quickly and from a broad sample of households means that we can quickly spot issues, and then start working on solutions.”

    In addition to providing information and responses, app users will also receive insights from the CSIRO, including tips for improving their home’s energy efficiency, cutting-edge research updates, and even short videos from scientists.

    CSIRO Energise may be downloaded for free from app stores.

    The agency hopes to recruit between 10,000 to 20,000 “citizen scientists” for its project.

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