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Home Camp news round up


April 5, 2010 at 10:43 am Leave a comment

Home Camp news roundup

  • A little bit of research here to remind you, in case you’d forgotten, that smart meters are BIG, and they’re only going to get bigger. If you like your reading long, dry and sub-divided then this is a helluva one stop shop for the latest on where smart meters are at.
  • Excuse me while I just wipe the drool off my chin, you can now check out what Intel *might* look like when it’s released to the grabbing hordes.
  • Interesting perspective on why Google’s PowerMeter is one of the shorter kids in the class. Still, slow-growth could be beneficial to working through the niggly little problems that usually come about with mass implementation.
  • Looks like the Aztech device will feature big in the US’s smart meter picture. Having read the brief article, I was expecting something a bit more whizzy than this. It was never going to be long before the smart meter boom resulted in the god, the bad, and the, well, a bit boring.
  • At the other end of the design spectrum, DIY Kyoto are hosting a competition to re-create the oh so sexy must-have-if-you-have-cash-to-flash Wattson. Deadline is 12th March. Get scribbling.
  • Watch out, your kids will soon all be smarty pants with the introduction of smart meters to all schools in the latest Government “carbon cutting” initiative.
  • Well, hello there, the latest BlueLine PowerCost monitor seems like a smart little fella – liking the appliance tab and predictive feature!
  • And another new kid on the block over in the USA, even though it’s still in beta the WattVision is already winning over followers. I like the fact that it skips the display part to go straight to your computer web browser or smart phone. Who needs extra clunk after all?
  • Coffee and chocolates, wine and cigarettes, roses and empty wallets, as if we needed Valentines day to remind us that the best things come in pairs. Well, it looks like the first outing of a pairing I’ve been waiting for has finally arrived. GEO’s Duet, the loved up coupling of gas and electricity monitoring, is being advertised to buy here.
  • The next step on the path to Google Energy has been taken. Beware and don’t say we didn’t warn you.
  • How do you visualise energy consumption? For some people even the length of time it takes to say home energy monitoring is enough to switch them off, so we should be paying attention to these cool ideas on how to make it just that bit more eye-catching.
  • Did you make it down to HackSpace for a look at how arduino fits into the home automation world? Well if you did, I hope you said “cheese”.
  • And just for kicks, check this out if you’ve made it to the end of the round up this month.

February 23, 2010 at 4:39 pm 1 comment

Home Camp news round up

Wow, you take your eye off the ball for a couple of weeks and the news just goes and snowballs (UK residents – no pun intended). So here’s the latest round up for anyone who, like me, is only just waking up to 2010 half way through January…

  • Over at the Guardian, Adam Vaughan has been finding PowerMeter easy to use if a bit of a shock to the system. Admittedly, seeing your electricity consumption on iGoogle at 8am on a cold winter morning might not be best way to start the day. But I’m with Adam on the big question – how can we start to share this data socially?
  • Europe has plans for a super grid linking renewable power supplies which could weather proof our future energy supply.
  • Over in the US and Canada, Oracle Utilities are touting for clients. A new report, ‘Testing the Water’, highlights consumer demand for more sophisticated information about their water use and water conservation. Smart meters could have a role to play here although utilities companies are unsurprisingly moving slowly due to concerns about the costs of implementation.
  • @andypiper tell’s us that Intel have been showcasing a glitzy Atom-powered home monitor system. I’ve got to say, from just a glance at the screen shots, I want one. Judging from the slavering comments on this page, everyone else pretty much agrees. Shame it’s all still in the dream sphere.
  • Grassroots home energy monitoring of the kind we HomeCampers love – Say hello to the Picowatt, a Wi-Fi enabled smart plug developed by Tenrehte Technologies that can provide just the same amount of consumption crunching love as you’d get from your smart meter
  • Meanwhile, UK start-up PassivSystems have launched their home automation system at CES Unveiled. By learning from your regular behaviour, PassivEnergy will automatically control your energy consumption so that it is more efficient, cheaper & carbon cutting.
  • The latest step on the path to Google world domination was taken with the announcement of Google Energy. Good Google says this is to help meet their corporate carbon reduction goals. But over on the other shoulder, Scary Google may be hatching evil plans to move into utilities, despite denials to the contrary. Anyone feeling complacent about Google’s increasingly godlike powers over our digital lives should read @benjaminellis’s blog about a week without Google.
  • And finally, if you haven’t already spotted it, check out the below blog post about the HomeCamp meetup tonight at the Windmill near Old Street.

January 20, 2010 at 1:01 pm 1 comment

The week in news…

What with the UK government officially announcing their smart meter plans and Beijing having a (first?) smart grid conference, it’s been a busy week in the news for home energy monitoring. The main focuses have been on the costs of mass implementation, how much more the tech will innovate and the need to educate consumers for any degree of success.

  • Living in the USA? Clean tech jobs and big investment are coming to a state near you.
  • The government outlines their thinking on smart meters for every home by 2020 – includes £6m earmarked to help suppliers develop smart technology – not quite on the level of the US investment, but a start. The question most often raised is how smart are the government being in their introduction of smart tech? Notably…
  • While I’m never a fan of the Daily Fail, it’s interesting to see what the backlash against smart meters is going to look like. Cost to the consumer is the major concern. Is the government’s reliance on competition between energy suppliers to drive down costs passed on to consumers enough?
  • A nation of power stations? A fair proportion of energy production is going to go local over the next ten years. Smart meters should include a measurement of power fed back into the grid in order to maximise their usefulness.
  • Why China is going to implement the smart grid quicker than India. A more in depth analysis of the Beijing smart grid conference can be found here – particularly interesting to hear the view of wind power as clean energy but dirty technology.
  • This comment on a recent survey of US and Canadian consumers shows there’s agreement across the pond that the mass roll out of smart meters won’t work without accompanying consumer education. So how best to facilitate that?

December 6, 2009 at 4:58 pm Leave a comment

Interesting things knocking about on the web this week…

November 17, 2009 at 4:35 pm Leave a comment

Home Camp 3 and other things…

Yes, Home Camp 3 – the rise of the monitoring devices – is upon us. It being part 3, we thought we’d take the not particularly logical step of having 3 options on dates – 21 Nov, 28 Nov, 5 Dec –  and we’d like to know which one suits all you lovely Home Camp folk the best.

Tweet your preference to @ohrworm, reply in the comments here or let us know on the Google Group. Whatever does it for you, just make sure you let us know if you want to come any play…

Interesting stuff on the web this week:

November 3, 2009 at 10:36 am 2 comments

Home energy monitoring is a hit at BarCampLondon7

Thanks to @adamcohenrose for letting us upload his notes from the home energy monitoring talks at BarCampLondon7. Check out his blog here:

Saturday, 24 October 2009 BarCampLondon7: Energy Efficiency & Usage Monitoring

Nigel Crawley

  • digital meter — LED flashes fast or slow depending on how much electricity you use
  • can pick that up with an arduino with wifi and then make available as EEML
  • EEML ( — XML for electricity cost
    • can humm output eeml?
  • can then input into Pachube
  • can then do visualization like this: BBC spiral viz of podcast #bcl7 on Twitpic
  • lilypad arduino — can sew into clothes
    • can include a vibra-ball
  • can recognise individual devices by whole home electricity usage
    • fridge, kettle, toaster, electric oven
  • Tom Raftery —
    • devices using too much electricity — an organisation will offer to replace it and tell you the savings
    • Camden, New Jersey: government offers subsidies on lower energy appliances
  • visualisations:
    • one for schools that showed a polar bear running out of iceberg
    • DisplayLink have done a blog post on energy visualisation

Gbenga Kogbe

  • the UK will run out of energy by 2014… we must save
  • comparing with your neighbours
  • mancini project — plug by plug usage
  • there was some effort in the Zigbee standard — all appliances would publish their usage to a standard hub
  • energyhive provided reduced price meters
    • research that came out showed that by the end of the trial, loads of meters were in the drawer and not used
    • several 1000 homes included in trial
  • putting information online and sharing it is much more effective than a little meter in the corner
  • in some places, there are dynamic tariffs
    • would like to tell dishwasher to wash when it’s cheap
    • not in the UK…
    • energy providers buy at realtime, but sell at flat rate
  • Dale Lane: energy costs vary between 2p and £3 a unit!!
    • it’s in their interest to get us to use it at the right times
  • base electricity is provided by nuclear power
  • peak is provided by hydro
  • figure out national supply by checking frequency
    • brownouts caused by frequency going too low
    • looking at making fridges turn themselves off when the frequency is lower
    • if all fridges did this, then peaks would be made less
    • see also
  • in California they have battery farms (since the 80s)
  • solar panels are less efficient in the heat…
    • they get powered by light, not heat
  • bike generators:
    • bikes available for free — have generators
    • when they are parked, they provide their power for the local buses

October 28, 2009 at 8:05 pm 1 comment

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