The 365 Ways Blog

Michael Norton is author of "365 Ways to Change the World", which provides an issue for each day of the year, interesting facts, inspiring case studies of people doing things to address the issue and ideas for action. Originally published in the UK, versions with local content have been published in Australia, Canada, India, South Africa and the USA. To find out more visit our website:

01 August 2007

Find out Wattson

If you measure your energy use, you will find it easier to reduce it. There is a simple device called Wattson which does just that.

The Wattson system measures total electricity entering your house and displays this value on an easy to understand display. In your home, the electrical system will consist of several circuits, such as ring mains, lighting circuits, cooker circuit etc. These separate circuits are all connected together at the fusebox, and this is where Wattson measures the total electrical power entering your home. The amount of electricity being used at any one time, is displayed using numbers and colours.

The device will not just show how much electricity you are using, it will also record your usage history over a period of months. This will provide you with a deeper understanding of how you consume electricity use and how (if need be) you can reduce your consumption.

You can also view your power use at any moment expressed either in Watts or in Pounds Per Year – the pounds-per-year figure is calculated on the basis that everything is left as it is for the whole year. You will be able to see how much money appliances cost to run, and how much they cost when left on standby.

You may find your microwave costs you £50 a year just to tell the time and wait for you to ask it to do something.

Switching on a kettle will make the yearly figure jump by around £3,000. Nobody leaves a kettle on for a year. But this figure gives you a good reason to boil only as much water as you need rather than filling the kettle to the top, which takes six times as long to boil (and costs six times as much).

A 100W light bulb left on for a year will cost roughly £70, but if you replaced it with an 18W Low-energy light bulb with the same light output, then this would drop to about £12.60, saving you nearly £60 (again on the assumption that the light is left switched on year round)!

Wattson has been produced by the design group DIY KYOTO. They “value simple things, and seek to produce products of perfect convenience and utility, elegant in their conception and efficient in their operation.”

Wattson costs just £125. Your home will never be the same with it.


Blogger Michael Norton said...

Government action to provide smart meters...

Smart meters in every home and business will play a key part in reducing our carbon footprint and cutting our energy bills, according to Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks, as the Government launched its consultation on metering and billing today.

The consultation looks at how to implement the Government's proposals to cut energy use through the roll out of state of the art smart meters, and real time visual display units to households and businesses.

Real time visual display units can tell people how much energy they are using, and how much it is costing when individual appliances are turned on. Smart meters allow energy suppliers to communicate directly with their customers, removing the need for meter-readings and providing accurate bills with no estimates. Smart meters tell people about their energy use either through linked real-time display units or in other ways, such as through the internet or even through digital TV.

The proposals on which the Government is consulting include:

* Providing more enhanced information on bills to help people save energy, including historical comparisons of their energy use;

* For electricity suppliers to provide a real-time visual display unit to any new meters fitted from 2008, and to all households that request them between 2008/10; and

* For gas and electricity suppliers to install smart meters to all but the smallest businesses over the next five years.

The consultation will also seek views on the Government's expectation that, over the next ten years, all gas and electricity customers will be given smart meters with visual displays.

Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks said:

"Cutting carbon emissions is one of the greatest challenges we face. Smart meters provide the chance for each one of us to play our part, providing better information and more accurate billing. It is vital that we make best use of this emerging technology that will not only help cut our energy use but reduce our bills too."

The consultation follows the recent announcement of energy saving trials involving 40,000 households. The trials include 15,000 households having smart meters installed and 8,000 more receiving clip-on visual displays that can be used with their existing meters. The other households in the trial are testing new ways of receiving information to help them cut their energy use.

Notes to editors:

1. The Energy Billing and Metering - Changing Consumer Behaviour consultation will run until the 31 October 2007 and is available on the Department for Business website

2. In taking final decisions on billing and metering, the Government needs to consider the requirements of Article 13 of the Energy End-Use Efficiency and Energy Services Directive ("Energy Services Directive").

3. The energy saving trials, which were announced on the 12 July 2007, are funded jointly by Government and four energy companies and are managed by Ofgem. The trials will be carried out throughout the UK and will last two years with results being available on a six-monthly basis.

4. The Energy White Paper, published on the 23 May 2007, set out a number of policies on billing and metering, designed to reduce energy consumption for which this consultation seeks views on.

Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform

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