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Experienced Building Services Engineer and about to undertake a sustainable masters degree!
Its hard to change peoples habits, whether it be turning off the heating, the lights or plugging out devices. People are lazy !! The mobile app has become the lazy persons toolbox ! Everything can be done through your mobile phone. I recently installed a new thermostat in my home that is controlled via an app on my mobile phone, it is so simple to use and to programme and it can be turned off and on from your own bed !
Considering that home heating accounts for about 30-40% of energy usage in a residential dwelling, the remainder is used by power sources and lighting. A linked device and app can certainly be developed that can help monitor and control the main electricity consumers in the home. Maybe a simple dongle plug-in (into the circuit board) can be developed so that you can pick up and control your power consuming devices from your phone.
You might forget to plug out your TV or turn off your upstairs lights, or maybe you want to set a programme for your lights, and even TV for when you are away on holidays. A simple, cheap effective device could be developed to do this and enable more control to the user. The technology is there, everyone has a smart phone (or nearly everybody) so that this can be rolled out on a large scale to generate some significant savings. There is no reason why this can't be done cheaply. If the app is developed to tie into a users electricity bill, it can offer ways to reduce it. This helps change the users mindset as they will see a real saving when paying the bills.
A graphic on your mobile or tablet will help the user visualise where they are spending money on electricity, it will then encourage the user to turn off lights and plug out laptops.
Renewable technologies such as PV and solar can offer massive benefits but the capital outlay only make them attractive to a very low percentage of the population that is why I think what I have mentioned above can be implemented on a larger scale and at a significantly lower cost.
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