Categories
News Science

DIY Electric Brain Stimulation

electric shock

Many years ago when I was just a teenager, I came across an interesting machine. It was supposed to tone your muscles while you sit on the sofa eating crisps and drinking tea, by using electric current. Easy to use, just plug the leads into the box, attach the pads to the skin using elasticated bands, and pass the current through your leg muscles. You feel a little twitch, the muscle flinches maybe and somehow is exercised.

Well I of course didn’t need to lose weight or build up my muscles, I weighed 68 kilos, but I had the very thought that any teenage adventurer home scientist idiot would have, “I wonder what it does if you stick it on your head?”

Unfortunately my experiments were soon discovered and the offending article was removed (the machine, not my brain or sense of experimentation) which is a shame, because if not I would today be considered a pioneer, the father figure of the growing DIY brain stimulation movement.

I do not want to suggest that anyone should try it at home, but the movement for self brain stimulation is on a roll. I won’t include any links but you can discover how to build your own stimulator and where to place it either using text, photos or videos easily and freely available online. The small army of practitioners are conducting experiments upon their own brains, circulating their findings and claim real results.

Although these results are anecdotal (not totally “scientific”) users claim that their capacities for mathematics have improved, problems of depression have been lightened, memory is better and that chronic pain can be relieved.

This week the Journal Science News carries an article about the movement, and a couple of months ago WIRED also addressed the problem, and I would like to raise a few issues to add to their arguments.

We might think that it may not be a good idea to conduct such experiments upon ourselves without any expert help, but the people who have had their lives improved through these actions would not agree. Experimentation in this field goes back many years, far longer than you would imagine (in the 11th Century experiments included using electric catfish and other charge generating fish were proposed to treat patients, rays placed on people’s heads etc), and many of the practitioners today are doctors. There is even a commercially available set up that is marketed to gamers, as one finding suggests that the use improves their playing capacity.

This field in some way reflects the path of home treatment using non prescribed drugs in cases of cancer. Many groups exist that experimentally treat themselves with medication that has either not been approved, trialled correctly or is not commercially available for other reasons. If these trials are reported correctly the information they produce becomes important data, and we tend to find that people report extremely well when they are talking about their own bodies and choose their own treatment. And trials of this type may not be possible (or wanted) under the control of drugs companies or research organizations.

So there are obvious ethical issues to take into account, including issues of trust, reliability, risk, responsibility, legal implications and the list goes on, but people will always experiment. According to Doctor Who that is why the human race is what it is, why it is so wonderful.

Once again I find myself thinking about the enhancement problem and its series of fine lines, ideas of the democratization of medicine flow in, and we must not forget how much science is done in this way and how much good comes out of ad-hoc garage experimentation. Do you know what Benjamin Franklin did with a kite and a key in a lightening storm?

Categories
Charity Festive Media Technology

Useful Christmas Gifts

In some parts of the world Christmas is well on the way, and shoppers are happily spending the bank’s money in shopping centres to buy presents for their loved ones.

In my family we have a different approach, and I would like readers to consider the model. It might possibly go some way to improving the welfare of many and the health of the global community at large.

The charity OXFAM offer a wonderful service called Oxfam Unwrapped. Why not buy a present for someone but have it delivered to someone who really needs it? I like this system, although I have some suggestions that I will make later.

So each year I buy my brother a set of school books for English language teaching through Oxfam. My brother speaks good English however, and so Oxfam send the books to a school in Malawi, where they serve a full class of bright and eager Malawian kids. My brother receives a card directly from Oxfam letting him know that his gift from me of 26 school books has been delivered by Santa to the school.

Everyone is happy.

The Unwrapped service offers all kinds of gifts, but I would stick to inanimate objects, project funding or education rather than live animals, although this is just a personal choice. The introduction of a live animal might cause problems to a family though (only my personal idea), as circumstances might not be ideal for their arrival.

I must admit that even living in affluent Cambridge Massachusetts, the arrival of a cow or even a couple of chickens or goats would not be too easy to manage, and I am sure that other situations exist that might not be improved, albeit through good will, by addition to the family. I am sure Oxfam know what they are doing though, they have been working in this field for many years.

Another possibility is to donate to research, projects or product development.

I like the idea of sending something to benefit others, and there are many ways of doing this. Just for a single example take a look at these coffee mugs. Each mug has the logo of the beneficiary printed on it, and 50% of the price is donated directly to the organizations.

Or donate to a project that is working to improve lives. The Liter of light project I wrote about earlier in the year is in need of funds, and there is another local project that is close to my heart that involves playing football (soccer).

A group of Harvard University students (women) had an idea a few years ago that has finally come to fruition. They have designed a football that can convert the energy created as it is being used into electric power. So the ball has a small socket within its cover, an inductive coil mechanism turns the kinetic energy into enough power to run a light for 3 hours after just 15 minutes of play.

Socckett powering a light
Soccket powering a phone

After a full match the ref can charge his or her mobile phone.

Soccket, as the ball is called, is currently under trial in South Africa, and they could do with some advance orders to help its development. They are giving the balls away for free. You can buy one at the company website, and they will give it to someone on your behalf. They also have a skipping rope (jump rope) that works in the same way as the ball, so if football is not your sport of choice you can still join in the fun.

If we all diverted a portion of the money we spend this Christmas to projects whose goals are to improve lives, we could make a lot of difference. We could avoid battling other shoppers, buying needless things, creating thousands of tons of waste and modify an extremely wasteful and destructive economic system.

We could all do a little bit of good, and as William Shakespeare once said “How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world”.

Categories
Reviews Technology

My experience of smart meters

This post is written in partnership with British Gas, however as always, all opinions are mine.

In December 2011 I wrote about how smart meters are the future for our electricity. The UK roll-out is well under way and I suspect that some of you (like me) now have a smart meter in your homes.

Smart what?

So what exactly is a smart meter? Brownie points need to go to whoever name it, as (unless it was named after a Mr Smart) the name is pretty self explanatory; a smart meter is a smarter version of your original gas and electricity meter.

So what makes it smart(er)? Well smart meters are going to put an end to estimated bills by feeding your energy usage directly back to your provider, removing the hassle of having to report your readings. This also means that there is no longer a need for someone to come around and read your meter.

So your bill is always timely and accurate. Isn’t that convenient!

This video by British Gas explains it a little further.

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It isn’t just your energy provider who gets data from your meter though. British Gas provide a smart energy monitor, so that you can see exactly what you are using, in real time!

A British Gas energy tracker
British Gas’s smart energy monitor

I have found this really useful, as it lets me see exactly what (gas and electricity) I am using at any given moment. I can set an ideal level of energy to use each day, and then track this with my monitor, to see whether I am over using!

A kettle boiling
Seeing how much energy my kettle uses has made me think about how much tea I drink!

The real time aspect of the monitoring does make you more conscious of what you are using. I nearly had a heart attack when I turned on the kettle! The electricity consumption shoots up to about 2.5 kilowatts of usage! I can now tell you what (almost) all of my appliances use: the vacuum is around 1.5kW, oven around 3-4kW, computer and monitor is about 0.3kW (more with speakers on though – use headphones!). I believe that being more energy conscious is saving me money – and also reducing my carbon footprint.

The smart monitor British Gas provide is really good, showing you everything from how much your energy use so far today has cost you, to how strong the WiFi connection is. The touch screen monitor comes with some on-screen tips (which you can access through the help menu) which give you ideas as to how to save money.

As I mentioned above, the meter lets you set targets as to how much energy you want to use each day, and then alarms when/if you go over. This is helping me to encourage everyone in the house to keep their usage down, so we can go later and later each day without going over the target and setting off the alarm!

I have noticed that (especially with concern to gas) my energy usage is higher in the winter than summer. This is my first year with the meter and I had it installed over the summer, but the cold and dark means we are in the house more often, using electricity and the heating more. Using the gas hob doesn’t have much of an impact at all, but whacking the boiler on for the heating and hot water certainly does.

I feel that my smart meter has given me more control over the energy I use and more flexibility in how I manage it. Smart meters get a thumbs up from me. If you have one let me know what you think in the comments below.

UK Roll-Out

Because of the benefits smart meters offer, (mainly helping to significantly reduce our carbon footprint) the UK government has stipulated that all homes and businesses will have a meter installed by 2020 – to help us meet our 2020 EU energy targets.

This means that if you live in the UK and don’t already have a smart meter, you will be getting one very soon. Which? explains how the roll-out is going to be picking up pace from 2015-2020, however if you can’t wait that long, you can get yours installed now. If you switch to British Gas, you can get one installed straight away, or if you are already a customer you can register your interest for a free upgrade here.

More

You can get more information on smart meters in British Gas’s video series on YouTube. You can also find out more about the benefits and the roll-out on their website. If you want to know more about my experience of having a smart meter, please feel free to ask me in the comments below. 🙂

Categories
Environment Science

Politics and the Environment

Yesterday the official data came out and the year 2012 was the hottest year the US has experienced since records began. Not only that, but it was the hottest by a long way.

The Hurricane Sandy experience, as well as a recent spate of wildfires and drought, has meant that the topic of climate change is firmly on the table, but the dissenting voice still carries political clout.

There are two polar positions here, with a large political lobby arguing that climate change has nothing to do with human actions, that either the Earth is warming naturally or that there is no proof that the world is warming at all. This goes against mainstream European thinking, and we can see many differences in approach between the two continents. In Europe we no longer use plastic bags on mass, they are now almost all biodegradable, and we can only buy low wattage compact fluorescent lamps as old style light bulbs have been fazed out.

Here the government is moving towards the same goal. In Massachusetts an organization called Mass Save subsidizes the cost of replacing old bulbs with new. The money comes from the user who has to pay a supplement on the electric bill to fund the scheme, but all is not without issue.

which do you favour?
A traditional and new style lamp

These bulbs contain mercury, a naturally occurring but poisonous substance. This means that they have to be disposed of properly, as if they are just dumped into the ground they can poison the surrounding water ways, very much in the same way as batteries do. They are also much more complex than old style bulbs, they require assembly and raw materials for their components, and much of this work is carried out in China with the usual questions of human rights and exploitation that are associated with this type of process.

Some sections of the political world (the Tea Party for example) offer this as proof that the environmentalists are poisoning the Earth and that their arguments are based upon false suppositions. Statistics are produced that seemingly show that a few lamps may do a lot of damage, but they do cut down electricity consumption enormously, and here in the US a lot of electricity is still produced by burning coal, and that is an extremely dirty and polluting affair.

The amount of mercury is also disputed, bringing poison into the house, light that burns skill, all kinds of terrifying scenarios, and I am certain that these lamps do present a real issue of environmental threat, but it is not through such scaremongering that progress will be made.

For the lamps to be efficient and effective they must be disposed of properly. For this to happen the public must be informed and take action. These bulbs must be correctly packaged when they fail and taken to recycling hubs where skilled operators know how to dismantle them.

As many readers might know, the environment and all issues surrounding its protection are extremely politicized in the US. Research data is difficult to come by, and large sums of money are involved, particularly on the side of the sceptics. But cuts in electricity use must be a good thing, but only if the collateral effects of such a mass introduction of ever cheaper technology that purports to be wholly good are properly investigated and managed.

Low mercury lights are available too, but I would like to say that the amount of mercury present in even a non low mercury version is extremely small. You have a lot more in the fillings in your teeth for example, but you should still go to the dentist for a check up every now and again.

In practical terms, I recently changed 12 bulbs in my house and my monthly electricity bill dropped by about 20%, good for me, good for the planet, but let’s not see it out of context. The keys are nothing more than management however, good research that is available to all, education on the pros and cons of different possible solutions, and less political manipulation.

Here are two takes on the story. A critique of the way these problems arise through big business funding of the sceptic argument and a critique of from the other side.

Both politically loaded as you will see.

Categories
Competitions Gadgets Technology

Win a Solar Go Go Car to celebrate The Future Car Challenge

Petrol cars have no future. That is a fact, in 50 years time there will be no crude oil left on planet earth (assuming current consumption rates don’t decrease) therefore there will be no oil left to make petroleum or diesel.

Biofuel, hydrogen, LPG and electric cars are the future, there is no doubt about that. Right now there are many hybrid cars which use petrol with another power source, but in the future, petrol from natural oil will be no more.

There are of course other ways you can power cars, using compressed air is one method as is water-cell technology. These are not however currently concepts in mass production. If you follow those two links, you will find posts written by Jonny on the concepts mentioned.

Arguably the greenest option for the future is electric cars. The electricity used to power the cars can be generate from renewable sources, (it isn’t necessarily, but that is an option) and electricity from renewables is a lot less damaging to the planet than energy generated from the extraction and burning of fossil fuels – be it in on the micro scale inside an engine of a car, or on a macro scale in a network of power stations.

Electric cars are starting to look more and more normal, (in the past some have looked somewhat abstract!) and are becoming more efficient every year.

The Future Car Challenge

This year, British Gas (the company who installed Remote Heating Control in my home) became an official partner of The Future Car Challenge. The Future Car Challenge is an annual event, which showcases the latest developments in the electric car industry. This year, members from the British Gas team drove fro Brighton up to London, with the aim of using the least amount of energy as possible, using the latest electric cars. The team included comedian Robert Llewellyn, Ben Collins, (A.K.A. ‘The Stig’), and Commonwealth gold medal swimmer Ross Davenport.

The Future Car Challenge Ross Davenport
Ross Davenport playing his part in the British Gas Future Car Challenge

British Gas are setting up a national charging network, to help increase the viability of electric cars. A charging network is as vital to electric cars as service stations are to petrol and diesel cars. Some electric cars do have the ability to transfer energy generate from breaking into electricity, (as seem in Formula 1 cars) however this alone isn’t enough to power them, so electric recharge points are essential.

Here is a statement from British Gas on their involvement with electric cars:

The Future Car Challenge Robert Llewellyn
Robert Llewellyn taking part in the Brighton to London Future Car Challenge

“British Gas is dedicated to making the world a more sustainable place now and in the future. We are leading the way in providing expertise and charging solutions in the Electric Vehicle market through partnering with Nissan, Renault, Hitachi Capital, Toyota and Vauxhall.

British Gas’ dedicated charging solutions are safer, convenient and more compatible than plugging electric vehicles directly into the mains supply socket at home. Not only do we offer charging solutions that can cut charging times by around a third, but British Gas also offers its customers specially designed tariffs to help them charge for less.”

For more information on The Future Car Challenge, check out this article on British Gas’s blog. The article also has an embedded video of the event.

The Giveaway

To celebrate the event, we have five solar power car sets to giveaway, courtesy of British Gas!

The prize is a John Lewis Solar Go Go Car, (click the link for more info) a cool kit from which you can build your own solar powered car! Okay it isn’t quite as good as an electric car, but it looks great fun, and could make a fantastic Christmas present…

John Lewis Solar Powered Car KitThe giveaway will run for 8 days, from today until the end of next Wednesday (12.00am on Thursday the 13th).

The prizes will be sent out by British Gas to the UK only, so if you don’t live in the UK I am afraid you can’t enter. If you have an address in the UK you can get the prize sent to if you win, you are in!

How To Enter

It is really easy to enter the competition, all you need to do is enter an email address we can contact you on (if you win) in the Rafflecopter widget below. If you like the blog on Facebook, follow us on Twitter or are subscribed to our feed via email, then you can gain some extra entries.

Want a Solar Go Go Car kit? Enter below!

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Winners will be emailed on Thursday the 13th to let them know that they have won, and will be announced on the blog shortly after.

Good luck everyone!

Categories
Computers Environment Internet Media

Data Storage Problems

This week the New York Times published a long article about the problem of data storage, and I would like to summarize some of their findings. The article is available here in Saturday’s technology section.

The article is an attack at what the author sees as wasteful use of resources in data storage centres. There are now hundreds of thousands of these huge centres spread throughout the world, and the problem is they use an incredible amount of electricity. The servers have to be kept cool and they have to have spare capacity so that we can download whatever we want whenever we want.

Inside a US data centre
Inside a US data centre

Worldwide these centres use about 30 billion watts of electricity, and that is about 30 nuclear power plants worth of power. A single data center uses about the same amount as a small town, and the main criticism is the nature of the usage.

In the US 2% of all electricity used goes to these data centers, but the vast majority of this resource is wasted. Typically many servers are left to run 24 a day but never or rarely used (more than half in this study), and the average machine in operation uses less than 10% of its capacity. Servers are left running obsolete programs or in ‘comatose’ because nobody wants to risk a mistake and turn them off.

All of this means that any data center might use 30 times as much electricity as is needed to carry out the functions it performs.

All of these centres also have to have a back up in case of power failure, and so are surrounded by diesel generators and stacks of batteries, and many have been found in breach of environmental regulations and fined. The article gives details but the companies are names that we all know and use.

If you read the more than 300 comments however you will discover that a lot of people do not agree with the findings as reported. Many technicians argue that the companies cited are investing huge amounts of money into making the storage of data more efficient, and are constructing wind farms and using solar power in an attempt to cut costs and emissions. The article has its agenda and exploits it fully, but the problem is real.

I personally believe that we are witnessing the results of a digital culture change. We no longer have to store data on our machines, we can store it in some mythical cloud out there in the cyber-universe. This makes us think that it somehow exists without the need for a hard drive, but this is not true. As a result we keep things that we do not need. I have 500 e mails in my inbox, with attachments, photos that I will never again look at and other useless things, and they are all in storage somewhere.

Technology advances, storage gets cheaper and uses less space, but the amount of data created is growing at an incredible rate. My question is, can we do anything about it? Are we not the ones who should take some responsibility and think about the consequences of our actions. We think about not using paper to print emails but we don’t think about not sending them!

Categories
News Search Engines

Google prunes some of its branches

It is that time again at Google when it has to prune some of its various branches. Since Google co-founder Larry Page took over the reins as CEO in April last year, Google has been reducing and trimming its projects to renew and regain focus.

Google has come under investor scrutiny as it is facing increasing competition from both Apple and Facebook.

This spring cleaning is part of the various cost cutting and refocusing efforts. In the latest cleaning exercise announced a few weeks ago, Google will be pulling the plug on seven of its projects.

1. Google Knol

Google launched Knol in 2007 to help improve web content and as a challenge to Wikipedia that enabled experts to collaborate on in-depth articles. Knol will be available till April 30, 2012, to enable users to download their Knols to a file and/or migrate them to the WordPress platform. After that till October 1, 2012, Knols cannot be viewed but users will be able to download and export content. After October 2012, the Knol content will no longer be available.

2. Google Gears

Google has closed the Gears browser extension for creating offline web applications and stopped supporting new browsers in March this year. From December 1, 2011, Gears-based Gmail and Calendar offline will not work across all browsers, and Gears will not be available for download from late December this year. Google announced that this is part of their effort to help incorporate offline capabilities into HTML5. Users can access Gmail, Calendar and Docs offline in Chrome.

3. Renewable Energy

Google has abandoned its ambitious plans to make renewable energy cheaper than coal. Google had started this project in 2007 as a means on driving down the price of renewable energy with a strong focus on solar power. Google announced that the head of the project, Bill Weihl (William E. Weihl) has left the company and it believes that other organizations were in a better position to take its efforts to the next level.

4. Google Wave

Google has earlier stopped further development on Google Wave. Now it has announced that as of January 31, 2012, Wave will be available as only a read-only version and users won’t be able to create new ones. This will be completed closed on April 30, 2012. Users can transfer individual waves using the existing PDF export feature.

5. Google Search Timeline

Google will be removing this feature that displays a historical graph of results for a search query. Users will now be able to restrict any search to particular time periods using the refinement tools on the left-hand side of the search page. Uses who wish to view graphs with historical trends for a web search can use Google Trends or Google Insights for data since 2004. If you need more historical data, the “Ngram Viewer” in Google Books offers the same information.

The Google Trends Product Logo

6. Google Friend Connect

Google Friend Connect, which is a social feature, will be discontinued from March, this is because Google wants people to start using the Google Plus social network instead.

7. Google Bookmarks

The feature will become unavailable from December 19, 2011. This enabled users to share bookmarks and collaborate with friends. The existing bookmark Lists will be retained and labelled to make it easier to identify. The other features of the Google Bookmarks will keep on functioning. The change won’t affect the non-English users as it was an English only feature.

This spring cleaning is only a sign that Google knows that it currently faces big competition, so it needs to make sure that it discontinues disused/inefficient services it provides.

Categories
Environment Science Series

Cleaner Electricity Production

Producing electricity is often a dirty and polluting affair. Here in the US most is still produced by burning coal, rather like in the 19th century. Nuclear power production is seen by some as an answer as it doesn’t throw a tone of gasses and toxins into the atmosphere and can produce an enormous amount of power in comparison to the fuel it uses. But nuclear power brings its own sets of problems, you only have to look at recent events in Japan or take a trip to Ukraine to see that. And parts of the North Sea round the British Isles are contaminated from leaks from an infamous UK nuclear power station that shall remain nameless (although like New York it too was so good they named it twice) and the unforeseeable problems involved in storing radioactive waste for tens of thousands of years to name but a few rather thorny issues.

However some people that define themselves as fighting for a cleaner environmental electricity production policy, do argue that nuclear power is a move in the right direction, that alternative forms could never provide enough power to feed the planet and the very fact that nuclear power production does not create tons of carbon means it is advantageous in fighting the possible problems of global warming. There are undoubtedly advantages and disadvantages to this form of power production, but political and financial interests are also important factors to bear in mind.

Clean electricity for a better world

There are several other ways of producing cleaner electricity though as we know, but they too have their problems. Building a dam to use the water to drive turbines can have devastating effects on the surrounding areas. Look at the Yangtze Dam project in China and the effect of this engineering project on the people and animals that used to inhabit the newly flooded areas.

Wind farms also seem a good solution but some people say they are ugly and here in Cape Cod in the US there is a large protest movement growing out of claims by people that live near wind turbines who claim health problems, stress and migraines due to the flickering effect of the blades turning in the sun.

Solar panels are always sold as a good option, but they are expensive to manufacture because processed silicon is costly due to its high demand. There are also the problems of how to dispose of the panel when it is no longer efficient and the nature of the silicon purification process.

In Italy farmers have taken government subsidies and covered their land with solar panels in a bid to improve profits. In some cases the panels form a sort of protection for the crops while they produce electricity, but in a lot of cases the agricultural land is just lost to a sea of silicon, causing people to complain both about the aesthetics and the land use issue. Government green incentives mean that there is no need to ask for planning permission so these ‘silicon farms’ as they are known are cropping up in some rather inopportune places (sorry, couldn’t resist the pun) and are in massive expansion as this article demonstrates.

But fortunately as we would hope in a blog like this there have been some really interesting developments recently in non silicon based solar energy production that we can look at.

The sun between someones hands
Harnessing the sun

A couple of years ago researchers in Italy unveiled something called the Dye Solar Cell (DSC). It doesn’t use silicon to produce electricity but guess what? It uses vegetable dye from egg plant (aubergines). Well not being a scientist myself I thought, ‘yes, plants do photosynthesis don’t they, why didn’t I think of that?’, and I wasn’t far wrong.

The cells don’t have the same productive power so the area needs to be bigger to produce the same amount of power but they are incomparably cheaper and greener. Ideal for use for example on large low buildings such as barns or industrial units that can have the entire roof covered in vegetable cells and produce the electricity the occupants require for free. Good news.

But what if you haven’t got a huge roof? Well an Austrian company called Bleiner AG has developed a type of paint called Photon Inside that has the same capability. It has to be applied in a few coats and cost more than standard paint but a 50 square metre wall generates 3 Kw of electricity. It was developed for use on sailing boats so that they could operate a radio and radar while out at sea. Sorry but the only articles I can find online are in Italian.

Konarka is an interesting American company who have developed a power generating plastic. It can be made very thin and comes in a roll that you just cut to size, stick on your Venetian blinds or any other surface that takes a lot of sun and away you go. They also sell Power Fibre, as you would imagine it is a thread that you can weave, so you can make textiles that produce energy and can be made into clothes. I like this idea, you could buy a computer case that charges the computer using sunlight as you walk to work.

At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) they have recently unveiled their ability to print solar panels on to paper. A great breakthrough as it makes the technology easy to transport and place in position but also cheap and hardwearing (you can laminate it). Research at the University of Verona in Italy goes one step further, they are developing completely transparent thin sheets of solar panels that you can attach to the window and look through.

These final applications described above really take solar electric production to a higher level, as practically any surface can be used to produce electricity. The breakthrough here is in the technology required to transport the current more than its production, as attaching the diodes has long been the most difficult part of thin surface electricity production as they tend to come off with any movement in the surface.

Using the sea is also an option. Off the UK there is the giant Sea Snake trial taking place as well as the Oyster wave generator installation, and in the US buoys have been developed that generate electricity from their constant up and down motion, easy to place and a help rather than a hindrance to shipping.

As Christopher pointed out in a recent post, global warming is a real and serious problem and electricity production could be a major element in pollutant gas production, but as I hope to have shown above there are many interesting developments if we allow ourselves a slightly different point of view on electricity management.

A less centralized way of thinking and we could produce a lot of the electricity we need in situ, using our own buildings as power plants.

I have written more extensively on this problem on the Bassetti Foundation website and there are also various related articles about renewable energy sources and the problems involved in their use.

Next week I will have a look at possible engineering solutions for the problematic issue of global warming.

Categories
Technology

Smart Meters are the future for your home electricity

This is a sponsored post on behalf of British Gas. To find out more about sponsored content on Technology Bloggers, please visit our Privacy Policy.

Smart meters are a clever new technology, that can help to improve the way your energy usage is monitored and recorded, but many people know very little about this new bit of tech.

Smart Meters

Smart meters are a technology that are transforming our understanding of energy, and how we use it. What they allow you to do is to work out how much energy you are using, and on what, much better than ever before.

Smart meters measure gas and electricity usage in your home, by replacing your old electricity and gas meter, with an all new one.

For more information, watch this useful British Gas video about smart meters 🙂

The Benefits

This new energy meter allows you to see much easier how much electricity you are using, due to their handy in-home display, which puts you in control  of your energy.

Thanks to smart meters you can see in real time how much energy you are using. You can check this on its user friendly energy monitor, either online or through our smartphone app. So if you have your kettle and TV on and you are using 1KW, then you know what those appliances use.

According to British Gas this gives you the potential to reduce your bills by around a fantastic 10%!  This is because thanks to smart meters, you can see what energy you are using, and therefore can start to make small changes to use less and save money on your bills.

Another handy thing about smart meters is that they report wireless, so there is no longer a need (or the hassle!) for you or an engineer to take readings. Furthermore, the readings sent will now be 100% accurate, for total piece of mind.

Installation

In the UK British Gas are aiming to provide smart meters in all homes in the near future – meaning that everyone can benefit from this new technology.

British Gas's Corporate LogoThey are starting the roll out now, with 120,000 homes in the UK already having a smart meter. This will grow to around 1.5million by the end of 2012.

Because they are so useful, the UK government has mandated that all households will need to have smart meters installed by 2019.

British Gas have already started to introduce smart meters to homes across the UK, in order to make sure that we are ready in time for 2019.

When your home is ready for an upgrade, British Gas will contact you and their highly trained Smart Energy Experts will change your meters, and explain how to use your energy display and save on your bills.

Head over to British Gas’s website and Facebook page to find out more about smart meters and how you can get yours installed!

What do you think about the new meters which could save you money? Do you have any questions on anything I haven’t covered about smart meters?