This week Eneco, a Dutch energy company, kicked off a “battle of the watt” to challenge people to lower their energy use. The device, naturally, was designed by Marcel Wanders. Produced by Innovaders, the Wattcher plugs into an electrical outlet and simply monitors your energy use. Eneco is holding a contest to see which user can slash their bill the most.
It seems ineffectual, but ambient devices like the Wattcher can readily help cut consumption by 20% and up, due to some subtle social dynamics. Since electricity consumption is invisible, just being cognizant of your energy patterns allows you to change them in real time. Thus, some of the best at-home solutions to cut electricity use are extraordinarily simple, such as an orb that glows red during peak times (when electricity production is least efficient) and the Wattson, a minimal interface that tracks energy use. Of course, data geeks have their own solutions too, such as the Tweet-A-Watt, which can send electricity use reports to Twitter. Nice to see Wanders jumping on the band wagon with his form-factor know how–you’ve got to think that able designers will play a crucial role in marketing such technologies to the mainstream.