It is time to be inspired by energy efficiency or at least more interested in making our homes and lifestyles more energy efficient, especially as there is a financial and environmental benefit. So, which products could improve the image of energy efficiency and perhaps thrust the issue closer towards the centre of contemporary culture?
One recently launched gadget I think does this well is a mobile thermostat app. The product, developed by American company Ecobee, allows the user to clone the screen of the Smart Thermostat interface to their mobile device. From there, you can remotely control the temperature, activate a holiday setting or change the fan and system operating settings. This innovative technology is a great way to manage your home and embraces the environmental challenges we face.
A company called Nest have also produced a similar offering. They follow the lead of the Smart Thermostat with a device that has the ability to control the thermostat through a mobile device. The Nest device product includes some additional features, which may provide more cause for excitement. It has been billed as a ‘the iPod of the Thermostat world’ and the design philosophy certainly mirrors that of technology giant Apple. The headline feature of the device is its ability to learn. If, for example, you like the temperature to be at 21°C at 6pm on Monday through to Thursday, but 22.5°C at 3pm on Fridays and 24°C at 4pm on Saturdays, then the Nest Thermostat will automatically learn this schedule after as little as one week in operation. It will also provide a time by which it will change temperature. After a few weeks it is able to calculate exactly how long it will take to cool or heat your home.
Thermostats are becoming more intelligent.
Another fascinating feature is the motion detector. This serves two distinct purposes. Firstly, it helps to inform the auto-away mode, which will determine whether the thermostat should be active depending on how long ago the last time a person walked past or near the device. This does however present a significant design flaw. If you live in a multi-storey building, the chances are you may not pass by the thermostat for a substantial period of time. The second purpose of the motion sensor is to flick the screen on so that you could check the temperature whenever you walk past. You can even lock the device by setting a PIN to prevent those who you don’t trust with the heating from gaining access to the device. Overall, this is a fantastic product that combines usability with innovation. The only problem for some consumers might be the price – £158 in the UK.
For the gamers among us, have you ever considered how much energy is consumed by a game console? Well the Nintendo Wii is by far the most efficient of the offerings on the market in terms of energy consumption. The Electronic Power Research Institute performed a study in 2010 that proved that the Wii used just one-sixth of the energy of its closest rivals. Critics have argued that the considerably weaker processing power of the Wii renders these efficiency gains irrelevant. The obvious retort to this argument is that the enjoyment of playing your favourite game is unlikely to be measured in processing power. In any case, a debate over the costs and benefits of the Wii in relation to its more powerful competitors is more suited to a technology review or games magazine than an article on energy efficiency. The fact is: the Wii simply uses less energy than other prominent games consoles on the market.
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