I have given up following people around turning off lights and being generally “annoying” about consumption. The problem is not a lack of desire to do the right thing (as so often reported in the papers) but more a lack of knowledge of what I can actually do myself.
Strangely enough, this is nonsense. The many and variety of ways that each person can make a difference has been reported in almost all media for several years. The continuing problem I feel is instant results. People like instant results.
A quick scan online for products to help solve the growing feeling of frustration rife in my household turned out to be surprisingly fruitless. There are a range of products available which give a read out of power usage in your house. But these are absolute values. The problem with an absolute value is you have to know 1) what your measuring, 2) the value that each appliance contributes and 3) its a bloody number. Who cares if that number one minute says 5 and the next minute says 50? Clearly something has changed but this presumably happens constantly throughout the day.
I continued my disenchanted search and finally came across wattson. Like the other devices, Wattson gives you an absolute value which is essentially useless to the layperson. But! If you plug in your rate of pay, it can forecast your yearly bill.
Wattson is also a wireless box so can be placed conveniently where you are likely to look at it. Not just in the kitchen. He will emit a glow of blue, purple or red depending on your electricity usage to encourage lower consumption.
Not to mention the digital output that allows you to study usage over time. At last, a relative reading! The wobbly line is made of absolute values but placed in a display you can clearly see the trend going up or down which is a great help. You would never go to a meeting with a Powerpoint of figures. You go with charts because people understand them.
Designed by three graduates from London College of Arts, it is the most attractive and persuasive tool for lowering electricity bills I have seen so far.
Ben Rogers recently graduated with a degree in Geology from the University of Edinburgh. You can follow him on Twitter: @BonjamonRogers