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Plug In To Reduce Power USE

As more electrical goods look set to arrive in homes this Christmas, University of Essex scientists Dr John Woods and Steve Fitz, have been awarded funding to create an intelligent plug which can monitor electricity use.

The two scientists, of the Department of Computing and Electronic Systems, have been awarded £90,000 by Carbon Connections to create a device indistinguishable from current plugs, which details individual power use and can be connected to a central, controlling system within the home.

Inside each plug will be a power meter, a microcontroller and a wireless transceiver which will relay information back to the central point.

Dr Woods said: ‘People will be able to see how much power every single device uses. You will be able to see if a machine, such as a fridge, has failed, or if something has been left on, that should not have been. It empowers the individual homeowner to make a real carbon difference.’

‘With domestic consumption responsible for a third of the total use of electricity in the UK, it’s important to provide technology which can reduce energy use. This plug represents a completely new way to quantify energy consumption and the method of information delivery is portable and fashionable and may turn the tide on the apathy associated with leaving the TV and lights on.’

The prototype plugs will be made by Ipswich company Circad, and should be ready within six months. The plugs will then be tested in the University’s apartment, iSpace, where high-tech creations can be trialled in a home situation.

Kate Clayton | alfa
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