SmartSwitch: Rethinking the Light Switch

Thinking about conserving electricity often happens way after the fact of actually consuming it. Like when you get a huge electricity bill and think “wow, I really need to cut back.” And all the ideals of sustainable living can fly by the wayside as you run into the other room and forget to turn off […]

Thinking about conserving electricity often happens way after the fact of actually consuming it. Like when you get a huge electricity bill and think “wow, I really need to cut back.” And all the ideals of sustainable living can fly by the wayside as you run into the other room and forget to turn off lights or power down those sneaky phantom load draining devices.

The answer to this convenient forgetting may come in the form of devices that remind you in the moment to “conserve now”.  Peter Russo and Brendan Wypich, second year master’s students in the Stanford Design Program have created such a gadget, named the the SmartSwitch. It’s a dimmer switch with tactical feedback representing the amount of energy being used in your house, or by the grid as a whole. It’s a great idea that makes you conscious of how much power you’re using in the moment, in hopes of changing behavior when it happens, not in the future.

Russo and Wypich talk about their project:

It’s important to note that the SmartSwitch doesn’t restrict you from turning on a light. Rather, mindless habits like flipping on a light when it’s not really needed are slightly disrupted — hence why we consider it to be a “nudge”. It helps you to make an informed decision, while not telling you what to do. We also believe that the key to stimulating behavior change is to change the context in which a person looks at energy. The SmartSwitch does this by connecting together multiple users — across a building, a neighborhood, or even a town or a state. By changing the notion of electrical power from private ownership to shared responsibility, you feel part of a larger cause.

We believe that providing in-the-moment feedback will help you make smarter decisions around your energy usage. The smarter the users, the smarter the grid.

SmartSwitch is part of the Greener Gadgets competition vote for it here.

Nudge: “Two Stanford Students Rethink the LIght Switch”

[via @timoreilly]

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