Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Green Tech Tools for the Home

We are often encouraged to make our homes more energy-efficient, either by purchasing green appliances, by using efficient light bulbs, by monitoring our water usage in the bathroom, and so on. These tips aren't new. But now there are a multitude of new technology tools that can help build your awareness of your energy footprint and help make your home more "green."

It can be difficult to ascertain how much energy you are actually conserving when you take steps to make your house more energy-efficient, as the information you receive via your utility bills doesn't really give a complete picture of which devices are efficient or which times of day are inefficient. As Caitlin Chock wrote here a few weeks ago, there are new devices you can install in your home to help monitor your energy consumption. It is likely these sorts of devices will eventually be tied into smart grids that in turn will help us become smarter energy consumers.

While conserving energy, and in turn saving money, are good motivations for making steps to have a more energy efficient lifestyle, there are other tools that can help motivate us in other ways.

One such device is the Green Goose. The Green Goose is a financial management system that rewards your savings account for your "environmental savings." Using special wireless sensors hooked to (literally) little green eggs, the Green Goose system can monitor how many miles you bike (as opposed to drive your car), the temperature at which your hot water heater is set, and how much water you save in the bathroom. In turn, the system then transfers money from your checking account to your savings account to reward you for your green behavior.

Waterpebble is another device to help track water consumption at home. The device monitors the amount of water that goes down the drain while you shower. The device tracks the length of your first shower, then using it as a benchmark indicates --with green and red lights -- when to finish showering. Each time you shower, Waterpebble will fractionally reduce the length of the shower in order to help you save water.

While these ideas might sound a little gimmicky, they speak to the great innovation in the area of developing new technology tools to help us live sustainably. As Chock writes, "There is something to be said for positive reinforcement; if you can see just how much you are saving from your efforts that is all the more reason to keep on thinking green."

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