Energy Diet

Pollution Makes Me Sad

Going the extra mile is the focus on this post. There are two things we have done.

The first, and what I feel is most important, is educating our kids. The fact we have been talking with them so much about energy use and the impact on our environment is starting to resonate. Lily recently brought home a book she created where she had to express her feelings. One was that she was scared of dragons and one was that pollution makes her sad. Seeing this in her school work was really amazing. I guess she is listening after all.

The second was installing a solution to monitor energy usage at the device level. Knowing i was going to be doing this challenge when I was at the Consumer Electronics Show, I paid particular attention to the green tech companies. There were a variety of interesting solutions for visualizing energy usage in the home.

One of the most integrated was from GE. They have a touchscreen unit that allows you control all devices, track how much energy they are consuming and even see if your electric car is charged. The challenge with this is that you would need to outfit your entire home with their appliances, which is steep for most us.

I stumbled across another startup called ThinkEco. They make a more affordable solution for monitoring energy consumption for devices that are plugged into the wall. After discussing with the energy challenge with me, they were kind enough to send me 3 modlets betas at no charge (My disclosure statement).

Modlets are devices that plug into your outlets, and then you plug appliances in to the Modlet. The Modlet connects wirelessly to a laptop. The process was a little quirky, since I was using a beta product and an old Windows-based laptop (modlets are not yet compatible with Macs).

Since they sent three of these devices, I decided to place them in areas of my house with the most appliances plugged in. This would would be our living room, computer desk and room in the basement where the kids play. I am now able to schedule these modlets to completely stop drawing power. This is the secret for reducing energy cost. In a few more weeks we will have some data to see if we are able to achieve the 10-percent reduction they claim is possible.


  1. clipton
    February 23, 2011, 2:01 pm

    Dirk–I agree, education is most important. And good instincts with the GE device. I have no problems with GE equipment, however any device that requires switching out appliances is suspect. I like the ThinkEco device. I bet the modlet saves some energy, though their claim to reduce 10% energy seems exaggerated. Their Q&A page states that appliances make up 40% of residential energy use. That is a high estimate. Further, fridge, washer and dryer account for a large portion of appliance energy consumption and I’m not sure how the modlet will reduce energy from these components. Regardless, I see the value and look forward to your results.

  2. Honey
    April 8, 2011, 1:19 pm

    I’m impressed! You’ve managed the almost impossible.