Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Green nudge: The Wattson clock cuts your electricity bill with style

Green nudges may improve the road to a more sustainable world. We take a look at how the Watson Clock nudges you to cut down on the electricity.

The Watson ClockYou might remember the OKITE clock we featured a while back, which effectively countered our own laziness and inability to get up on time by tweeting your friends everytime you hit snooze?

Now we turn to a clock with an even greater potential – Wattson from the company Energeno. Wattson initially looks just like a ordinary although fancy clock, but along with the clock you get a clip and a transmitter. These are connected to your home´s electricity meter and with them connected, Wattson starts measuring your total energy of your home's use in real time. Besides giving you the watts used, Wattson can calculate the costs and give you an idea of how much money your air-con or your fancy stereo is actually burning up. On top of that, Wattson can be made to glow in different lights that correspond to your energy usage, blue for low energy use, purple for average and red for high.

How does it work?
The Wattson clock qualifies as a nudge, since it doesn't really give you any new information. You could easily get the same data from your home's energy meter, look up the price for every watt consumed and calculate your costs. It doesn´t change the options you have, you still need to regulate your electric products yourself.

What it does, and does well, is that it predicts how we are going to act and is designed to counter that. We know that we should be aware of our exact energy spending, but inertia postpones looking up the watts and calculating the costs. Even if we do look it up, it's an abstract number and we have to constantly update it if we want it to be meaningful. By giving us the number in real time, and calculating the costs for us, Wattson makes it a salient piece of information that we can then act on all the time. It even predicts that we would probably come to ignore even this very salient information after a short while when the novelty wears of, and counters this by making its presence felt with the different lights. By hooking it up to your computer, you can store the information and see your energy usage go down over a period of time, which encourages you to keep saving or risk loosing money.

Cost and benefit
If you´re worried about the costs of the clock, we can tell you that the developers at Energeno claims it reduces energy usage by 25 pct and given the features and their collaboration with how we humans work, we're pretty sure that's this estimate is likely to be reliable. Given that a typical Danish household consumes 3-5.000 kWh per year – the clock pays for itself within a half to a whole year while saving the environment for a lot of co2.

By Andreas Maaløe Jespersen

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