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Wattson and Holmes Make Monitoring Home Energy Use Elementary

U.K. design firm DIY Kyoto recently announced the launch of cheaper version of its Wattson, an ingenious little device that not only makes monitoring home electricity use a breeze, but even turns it into a kind of Web-based competition.

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The backbone of the system is a tiny wireless unit you plug into your computer’s USB port (aka Wattson). Equipped with a sensor that monitors your overall electricity use, this sleek device works with “Holmes” software on your computer and transmits your energy data to a community of other Wattson users on the Web so you can see how you measure up.

Simply hook up the included transmitter to your meter box to start keeping tabs on your home energy consumption. The Wattson also gives users more immediate feedback in the form of ambient lighting that tells you just how much electricity you’re using at a given moment. The unit will glow blue when you energy use is below normal, red when you’re sucking down more electricity than usual, and purple for average consumption. Not only that, but you can see (in watts or currency) just how much electricity you’re currently using on the unit as well.

Couple that with the community aspect of the system, and you have a what may be one of the more lust worthy green gadgets on the market. In fact, the company claims users can save anywhere between 5 to 20 percent on their annual electricity bills, too, which is nice considering the basic system still costs £100 ($185) and £350 ($647) for a sleeker Wattson Limited Edition with bamboo trim.

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