From the Netherlands, by designer Marcel Wanders (whom the New York Times calls the “Lady Gaga of the design world”), comes Wattcher, a home energy monitor its inventor describes as the ticking heart of the home, albeit a silent one, delivering visual clues to homeowners’ total electricity consumption in the last 24 hours and helping them save some of that energy in the future. But it doesn’t happen automatically. One has to ask.
That asking involves an online password-protected chat room where Wattcher users can access a seven-step plan to help them tame energy bills. According to the site, the Wattcher, while beautiful, is also useful for determining a home’s current and average daily power use (both electricity and gas), and for setting a target that users shoot for in lowering their energy consumption.
In addition to the steps, users can access monthly energy-saving tips, but this interactivity is much more than a ho-hum data feed. Wattcher users who have an access key (also available online) can compare consumption with other users and even engage in contests or battles – though not in World of Warcraft fashion – to see which user can save the most energy. Reportedly even companies and municipalities (like TNT, Den Bosch, and Smart Challenge) engage in these battles. Unfortunately, the text is all in Dutch.
Wattcher users are reportedly saving an average of 15 percent on their energy bills as a result of installing the sleek, smooth Wattcher, which consists of a sensor, a sending unit and a display unit, this latter plugging into any outlet. The sensor goes on any meter; analog, digital with LED pulse, or smart meter. The Wattcher trio uses less than 1 watt of energy, according to makers – and one assumes this is per month. Calling the $99 Wattcher “a strategy that stimulates awareness,” Wanders is up against some heavy competition in the residential energy monitoring venue, notably from such powerhouses as the GE Home Energy Monitor which we told you about in March, the UFO Power Center and the Cerberus, and the comprehensive EnergyBuddy. And may the best man (er, unit) win!