Time to think about Energy Consumption

In these times of need for fiscal prudence there’s always a way to find some savings. Fuel costs recently jumped to dizzy heights so that’s a good enough place to start. Besides, we also need to save those cuddly polar bears.

First step: look for the best deal. Done that (dual fuel, paperless billiing etc.)

Next step: clean up our act. I’ve ordered a meter that lets you find what’s consuming the most juice and see about switching things off. May need a time switch or two. (We already have good insulation and boiler is newish and recently serviced.)

Third step: something more radical that could also be more interesting. In the UK we don’t immediately think of solar panels as we’ve not enough sun to justify it. The fab guys at MIT will not replicate photosynthesis any time soon, although Prof Nocera et al are working on it.

So what to do? After a little googling around I found several people working on current cost meters and the like both for electricity and gas and hacking software to draw graphs – nice. Then I thought that, while we want to understand our consumption, it would make it interesting to enter a kind of competition that could be neighbourhood or country-wide to see who can best manage down their consumption. If this got a little viral it could “make a difference”.

So I’d like to work (preferably with others) on a device that would collect all the consumption data from a home and automatically upload it to a consolidation point. From there, group statistics and benchmarking could performed and various reports produced.

I envisage this device as a low-power affair that would serve its data onto the Internet. It would take feeds from any available consumption meters , preferably gas, electric and water.

The hardware for this is available, although some cost reduction would needed to allow a viral effect. The software would have to be written, although there are existing open source components that would significantly reduce the task. The whole thing could be open sourced.

Anyone interested in joining a project like this? Collaborators would need to have hacking expertise in relevant areas of hardware and software.