Yesterday we wrote about the email we received last week from Cathy regarding our usage of the PowerCost Monitor from BlueLine Innovations. She wanted to know if it helped us in our efforts to maximize our energy savings by reducing electricity consumed in our home.
Well, let’s talk about it then.
The first and most fundamental point about the PowerCost Monitor, like with any other electricity usage measuring device, is that it does not by itself reduce the amount of electricity consumed by you. Only you can prevent forest fires by actions you take and do not take; only you can reduce the amount electricity consumed in your home by actions you take and do not take.
The PowerCost Monitor simply measures through a real time display the amount or the cost, your choice, of electricity being consumed right now as well as the amount consumed in the recent past.
The value of this device is from some old axioms we are all too familiar.
What gets measures gets done.
Out of sight, out of mind.
In sight, in mind.
OK, so that last one is mine and is the opposite of the axiom directly above. However, I think its very appropriate as it gets to the heart of this device.
Most homes simply receive the reminder of how much they are paying for their home’s electricity once every one or two months when the electric utility bills arrives in the mail …. um, if they are the one who actually pay it. If they don’t pay it, they they never eve see it. They just hear the person who does pay the electric bill about how much it is and how everyone else in the home is wasting electricity.
Having electricity usage measuring devices like the PowerCost Monitor puts it front and center for everyone in the house to see the amount of electricity being consumed in the home, not just for the person who pays the bills.
It does this if the PowerCost Monitor is actually looked at by everyone in the household.
So, where to put it?
In our home, the centerpiece like most homes is the kitchen. I mean our kitchen is literally in the physical center of the home. On one side is the family room, dining room and living room which is where I have my home office. On the other side is the shared bathroom and the two bedrooms on the main floor. In front of the kitchen is the main hall, the front door and the laundry room. In back of the kitchen is deck to the back of the house.
Logic would then seem to indicate that the device should be placed in the kitchen so everyone could see it, be reminded that we are consuming electricity all the time and to take action in the moment to reduce electricity consumption. So, I initially placed it in the island next to the digital air temperature / humidity reader.
And, it worked for a while. The novelty of the device was such that every time I would pass by the PowerCost Monitor I would look to see how much electricity it indicated was being consumed and if the number of Kilowatts seemed high I would look around and see if there were any lights on in a room where no one was present or if the electric stove had been accidentally left on, was the dryer on and if so had it been on for a while and should I check it in case the clothes are already dry, and so on.
However, after a couple of weeks I noticed a phenomenon which I learned in my graduate studies in education not that long ago and which I teach my firm’s clients when focusing on course development and course delivery.
In any formal training students’ attention is drawn to inconsistency. If the training material has a lot of text and then all of a sudden there is a picture or diagram, students eye’s will gravitate to that picture / diagram in the material. If the instructor when delivering a course does something different in the course delivery from what they had been doing the past hour or two, it will draw the students attention.
It is really no different from animals. Those who have dogs as family pets, for example, experience this all the time. I do all the time with Sandy, our Cockapoo dog in the above picture.
When they are walking their dogs their attention is drawn to, and possibly they start to bark, if anything is different; a piece of paper on the ground, green bins and blue boxes on the weekly recycle day, etc.
Well, I am convinced that the same holds true with electricity usage measuring devices like the PowerCost Monitor. If it stays in the same place all the time, it will simply blend into the background and the members of the house will over time forget about it.
Did this happen to us? Well, take a look in the picture below and what do you see?
Sure, you see our PowerCost Monitor device but what do you see beside it? One could say that it is a small bamboo plant. A more accurate description could be a small bamboo plant with visible signs of distress from the many brown leaves! I can tell you that those brown leaves are from neglect by us not always having sufficient water for the plant’s roots. Well, if we can forget to check the water level of something simple like a living plant, surely after time we will forget to check the energy consumption from the device.
So, where to put the PowerCost Monitor so we remember to check it more frequently? And, is there simply one place which will do?
To continue to the next article in this series, simply select this link to the different locations for the Display Unit of the PowerCost Monitor.
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