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Plug your energy leaks

A plug

If you’ve got a habit of leaving things switched on at home, a simple solution might be on its way. Researchers from the University of Essex are developing a smart plug that will report on the energy use of the device it’s connected to. It will look just like a normal plug, but inside it will have an energy meter and a wireless transmitter that can connect to a monitoring system. You’ll be able to check the energy use of everything in your home, but even more conveniently for the absent-minded among us, the system could be set up to figure out when appliances are left switched on unnecessarily, and turn them off.

You might be thinking ‘Aha, but how much electricity will all those smart plugs use?’ The researchers did too, so they’ve designed their system to use less juice than similar energy-saving monitors out there. Now that they’ve designed a prototype, the next step is to test it in their own department. Before long they hope to have one of their smart plugs on every household appliance manufactured. Soon they could be helping to reduce the 1.5 tonnes of carbon dioxide wasted each year by the average UK house. In the meantime, though, it’s probably good to start remembering to turn off the lights when you’re not using them.