Student-Created Device Tattles On Your Inefficient Appliances

Even if you’re not a tech-obsessed consumer, odds are you’ve still got quite a few appliances in and around your house. There’s the dishwasher, refrigerator, stove/oven, and microwave, and that’s just in the kitchen! By now, most of us are aware that modern, Energy Star-certified appliances are far more efficient than their predecessors. But if you’ve replaced one or more of these major appliances within the past few years, it can be hard to know whether it’s in your best interests to splurge on new ones.

Faced with this same conundrum, two students from the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies decided to design their own solution. What they came up with is a smart plug that can actually monitor the performance of individual appliances and send you a digital report on their efficiency.

Appliances

image via Shutterstock

“Access to this data will allow users to optimise their appliance usage and take advantage of lower electricity rates by remotely scheduling or switching off the appliance via the smart plug,” said Mahboobeh Mogaddham, who developed the smart plug with his classmate Waiho Wong. “We are excited because this platform can provide a technically and economically feasible solution for households to reduce their electricity consumption by up to 10 percent – a significant cost reduction over the life of their appliances.”

So say you’ve only got enough cash to replace one major appliance this year, but you don’t know how to choose. All you’d need to do is hook each one up to the smart plug. After installing the plug, you’d input some basic information on their particular appliance on the MyPower website. Then, walk away for a day or so. The device’s embedded GSM unit will transmit information about the appliances’ energy use via SMS to a cloud-based data warehouse every 30 minutes. Then, you simply log on to the MyPower Energy Platform website and compare the appliances’ cost based on peak, shoulder and off-peak rates.

The pair of student designers say their device capitalizes on research which shows people’s ability to understand and reduce energy consumption is severely hampered by the aggregate nature of reporting found on power bills. By breaking it down to individual appliance consumption, it will be easier for people to identify and replace the items that are sucking the most power.

Beth Buczynski is a freelancer writer and editor currently living in the Rocky Mountain West. Her articles appear on Care2, Ecosalon and Inhabitat, just to name a few. So far, Beth has lived in or near three major U.S. mountain ranges, and is passionate about protecting the important ecosystems they represent. Follow Beth on Twitter as @ecosphericblog

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