Energy systems

Let this be a lesson to me. Never trust elderly neighbours. When I moved into my new flat a few weeks back, my neighbour was all sweetness and light. She let us into the electricity meter box, so that we could get a reading to tell our supplier. She also revealed that she’s the only person in the entire universe with a key to the electricity box. No problem. I won’t need to get in there again for a long time.

Or so I thought. The following week, I stroll into work to see a big pile of boxes on the Hippyshopper desk. “What are those?” I ask Abi. “Energy Monitors” she replies, “And we’re all testing them”. “Cool!” I thought.

Fast forward to that evening. I’m knocking on neighbour’s door, wondering whether she’ll think I’m some kind of weirdo, connecting machines up to the electricity. No answer. I try again, several times that week. No answer. She seems to have gone on holiday. So to cut an even longer story short, I didn’t get to test out my energy monitor – the eco-eye Elite. Instead, I’ll talk briefly about the product anyway, and the kind of energy usage I think I have as a big gadget geek.

The Eco-Eye Elite monitors your energy usage in kWh, and then displays it on a big LCD screen for all to see. The idea being that you can see when you’re using tonnes of electricity and try and cut it down. You can display previous days’ stats, as well as a conversion to carbon emissions (it’s unclear what formula they’re using to convert those emissions, because they don’t know how your power is generated).

I was surprised that there’s no USB connector. I would have thought that people who are keen to watch their energy usage would love a software package that analyses which times of the day, week, month and year you use the most energy, as well as offering tips to cut down usage at those times. For example, it would be great to see a recommendation of unplugging gadget chargers if your energy usage is relatively high overnight. Apparently computer connectivity will be added in a future model upgrade called the Wi-eye. Developed in Newcastle. Just kidding, but only about the Newcastle bit.

I live in a one-bedroom flat with my girlfriend, and we’re big believers in opening a window, or putting a jumper on, rather than using electric heating or cooling systems. We also tend to turn appliances off, with the exception of my PC. That stays on. I don’t know why I’m so attached to having my PC on constantly, but I am – I only tend to turn it off if I’m going to be away for a couple of days. I’ve always done it, and I don’t want to stop now. That’s my one big green fail.

I don’t think my energy use is massive, compared to many tech geeks, but at the same time, I’m sure my PC probably eats about £30 or £40 a year in power bills, on its own. Maybe one day I’ll grow into turning it off. For now though, I’m going to go home and switch on the ‘Hibernate’ settings. That’ll make me feel a tiny bit better.


Related posts: GREEN CHALLENGE: Energy monitoring week

Duncan Geere
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  • “The Eco-Eye Elite monitors your energy usage in kWh, and then displays it on a big LCD screen for all to see.”

    Is that something like the eletricity meter the wee man reads to give you your bill every month???

    • I would remind him that weeing near electricity cables is not something we advise at Tech Digest.

  • Sounds like a great idea. I came up with (I say this loosely) an idea similar to this for my degree show – but it included water usage as well. Damn the University’s IP ownership of student work.

  • Good luck on getting to test that, Duncan. I work at product design/industrial design firm here in the States with a pretty big “green” edge, so this kind of think always interests me and my compatriots.

    And good luck on your big, green initiative!

    • Thanks Dennis, much appreciated. Let me know if you’ve got any products you think we might be excited by – my email addess is in the ‘credits’ box on the right.

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