Sunday, 3 November 2019

The EconomyGREEN Tag

Having developed the economyGREEN 24 hour clock, I wanted to develop a simpler way to make use of the information it provides.
I felt that if I made the information available in as simple a form as possible and available at the time when I need it, I would be able to act on it more easily and would therefore be more likely to use it in my daily life.

The economyGREEN clock gives you a 24 hour forecast of carbon intensity of electricity throughout the current day. If at 10am you plan to put on a washing load and 20% of the UKs electricity is from renewable generation, but at 11am that will rise to 30%, running your washing at 11am will be the greener choice.
Most washing machines, dishwashers and tumble dryers have an option to delay starting for a period of time. If I looked at the economyGREEN clock before I set off a washing load and set it to start when the UK grid electricity is at its greenest, I could reduce my carbon footprint.
 However, opening the economyGREEN clock web page every time I want to do some washing, use the tumble dryer or set off the dishwasher and find the greenest time to run the load is not something I am going to sustainably add to my daily routines.

Thinking about this problem reminded me of nudge psychology. The idea that you add small queues at the place where you take an action can nudge you to make a better one. To implement this, I would need to display the best time to run a washing load on the washing machine, tumble drier or dishwasher. That would be expensive and, with all the technology required, not very green.
Then I thought, how about using people's phones. Most of us carry them around with us at all times, and here is a ready made screen that could display the greenest delay time.
I experimented with bar codes, location tracking and QR codes, but the process it required me to follow was far too complicated for me to use regularly.
Then I rememberd some work I had done with NFC tags. These are small tags that you can tap your phone on and will then transfer some data that they hold to your phone. One thing they can transfer is a link to a web page.
Using a programmable NFC tag, I created a link to my web site that contains a unique identifier. 
I have created a web app that can link the identifier to your make and model of device.
When you receive a tag, you stick it on, or near your device. Tap your phone on it for the first time, and you are prompted to select your appliances make and model. You tag is now ready.
The next time you tap your phone on the tag, the device name and model is displayed, and the delay reqired for the greenest electricity given.
Using the economyGREEN forecast, information about your device make and model and the washing program you intend to run, the web app calculates the delay needed to run your load at the greenest time.

Now I want to make these tags and devices available to anyone else who wants to use economyGREEN.

I have started a Kickstarter campaign to fund the production of 1000 tags. This requires several thousand pounds in funding, but reduces the cost of the programmed tags to a reasonable amount.

Our Kickstarter page

In the future, I would like to expand economyGREEN to include other countries and to support more devices and get it included as an automated option in smart appliances.

Please do follow my progress in Kickstarter and maybe buy a few tags to try. (For yourself, friends and family)

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