Plugwise is a company making various devices to assist in energy savings. The devices that target’s standby energy usage… sometimes called ghost loads, are mostly what this post is about. Unlike a lot of energy savings devices, Plugwise is not marketed exclusively to the home market, as plug loads happen every where! They suggest that by providing the user with both insight on consumption and by the ability to schedule devices to turn off when not in use (over night, for example), you are able to “save up to 30% on energy at the office” with this product. If you are not interested in ghost loads (for some reason) but rather want more general information on energy use in your home or office, they do have a device to plug into a smart meter called the Smile 1.
The product is ultimately a series of devices, which all communicate with one another using the wireless ZigBee protocol. This means that the different elements of the Plugwise product line communicate with each other, in order to help you both collect information and control switches. Putting together an optimized network would take some thought, though there are some suggestions available on their website.
The basic network includes:
1. Circle: a device that sits between the wall outlet and an electrical device, and therefore is able to make precise readings in terms of which devices are consuming energy. It also means that every outlet that is being used with any frequency will require a Circle.
2. the Plugwise app: a mobile device application that shows you the energy usage of the connected devices (those on a circle), even in standby mode. You can control the connected devices/lighting, turning them on or off, or create a schedule to do this automatically. The app also provides you with historical uses per hour, day, week, month or year.
3. The Stretch: the foundation of the Plugwise system – a device which you connect to you WiFi network.
The reviews for this product are largely positive, beyond the “30% savings” marketing pitch, it would be great to see some information on long-term usage. I’m always curious to see if usage of the system (log-ins etc) drop off when a plateau is reached in terms of energy savings.
Unlike many of the commercially available eco-feedback products that I’ve looked at on this site, this product isn’t just available for the market where is was made (the Netherlands), but rather, you can select the package with the right kind of plug, for a given market. Yay!