by Laura Neilson
The design competition at this year's Greener Gadgets Conference showcased ten innovative finalists, each utilizing technology to facilitate greener lifestyles. By and large, the majority of the conceptual gadgets functioned on energy "metering" ideas, including the winning design, The Tweet-a-Watt (pictured above right), a power meter that automatically publishes your power usage wirelessly via Twitter for friends and followers to see. The Power-Hog took second place with its own unique "metering" concept: it's an energy-consumption piggy bank that teaches kids the monetary value of electricity.
Both gizmos are indication of the growing "eco-metering" market—perhaps soon-to-be mandatory in some countries. (Germany recently proposed a new energy law requiring all new and remodeled homes to be equipped with smart meters by 2010 with other European countries taking similar measures.) Rising to meet the overwhelming demand, other energy-savvy gadgets include the Home Joule (above left), an i-device which plugs into a power outlet and displays energy usage data transmitted wirelessly from your energy meter. Combined with information from the energy company, including the real-time price of energy (which fluctuates over the course of the day), the changing color-coded monitor tells you when you might want to reduce your levels of consumption to keep costs down.
There's also the U.K.-manufactured Wattson (pictured above), an energy monitor that receives information from a transmitter device attached to one's power meter. It displays current usage data—either in watts or currency (British pounds)—on a stylish little screen about the size of a photo frame.