Earth Day happens for the 40th time today. And some aren’t too pleased with how big, commercial, and opportunist it’s gotten. That it’s become like going to church on Easter, a once a year empty gesture without lasting ramifications or lifestyle changing.
But then along comes a company like Energy Circle, who are doing something simple, transparent, and powerful: Founder Peter Troast and his family of four are sharing their energy use with the world , via a hacked The Energy Detective (TED), a “…a real-time home electricity monitor that is the equivalent of a digital stethoscope.”
They’re doing this public experiment because they believe measurement is the first step to making your home more energy efficient, and that they as a family will be motivated by the data being public. And if their example inspires you to do the same, they’re going to make their TED hack open source in a few days.
Along with the Google charting tool based graph, they’ll be annotating all the squiggles, giving real world context to the data – like their shock at just how big an energy hog their drier is. The transparency continues as these annotations get sent out via their Twitter account, EnergyCircleKW.
Rather than having some perfect uber green house, their house is prototypical American construction – built in the 80’s with an addition in the 90’s. It’s got lots of building envelope flaws and air leaks. They’ve had an energy audit done and have made a lot of progress in some areas–CFL’s and LED’s, low flow showers. But they have lots to do, and they’ll make their house an example.
It’s this sort of accessibility and walking the talk that is a wise move for businesses of many kinds, but particularly in the home energy efficiency realm, as they take the mystery out of what can seem like an intimidating process, bringing it down to the individual level, and in serving as a concrete example of what does/doesn’t work, encouraging others to follow suit, collectively making a sizable impact.
As with many other visible feedback mechanisms, just the increased awareness that an energy monitor brings is said to typically result in a 15% reduction in energy use. That’s without yet doing the other, mostly fairly simple measure that companies like Energy Circle teaches you how to do. An encouraging thing to know, when solar and wind systems still remain for the most part prohibitively expensive to most.
While things like Google Power Meter are coming at some point, perhaps this year, or next, Energy Circle is interested in bringing the public several “right now” options to be able to take an active hand in making better choices when it comes to their house energy use.
Readers: What concrete measures are you as a business, family or individual taking today, and ongoing?
Paul Smith is a sustainable business innovator, the founder of GreenSmith Consulting, and has an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio School of Management in San Francisco. He creates interest in, conversations around, and business for green (and greening) companies, via social media. Who he has and wants to work with includes consumer, media, clean tech, NGOs, social ventures, and museums.