The folks with STATIC!, a project led by the Interactive Institute in Switzerland, have been working on some really cool stuff. Their research is focused on interactive design that not only brings brings up energy awareness, but makes people want to change their behaviors.
One of their projects, the Flower Lamp, was chosen as one of the best inventions of 2006 by Time Magazine.
Basically, when a lot of energy is being used in a house, the lamp closes. When less energy is being used, the light opens, so to make the lamp more beauty, there has to be a change in behavior by the consumer. I haven't been able to figure out where the energy data is coming from though. Probably some separate mechanism that hooks into the power gauge in the garage.
There's plenty of other STATIC! projects like the Power Aware Cord, Appearing Pattern Wallpaper, and the Energy Curtain. Some of their stuff seems more art than anything else, but still very cool.
It would be interesting to put a more data-centric spin to these STATIC! projects.
Hmm... I'll have to think about this one.
Anyhow, the theme across all projects is certainly important as I progress -- producing visualizations that increase awareness and motivate people to change their behavior, even if just by a little bit.