Making Energy Personal

Interesting coincidence. As I opened my mail this morning to begin writing this blog post, a headline that jumped out from the inbox was “20 Years of Eco-Surveys Show Americans Know More, Feel Less Empowered”*. This caught my attention since Intel is working hard to make energy use very personal – and to use technology to empower us all to understand the impact of our behavior on the environment. In fact, we just worked with a film crew to create a 30 second video on this idea of personal energy.

It’s a little disconcerting to watch myself in the video – but especially given the survey results – the message is really important. Our daily decisions really DO make a difference and Intel and others in the industry are working hard to make that impact more visible and to make energy-saving behavior much easier. In our house we monitor our energy use real-time instead of waiting for the utility bill to come way after the fact and wondering what caused it to be so high. Amazing how much a little feedback changes actions – that fan doesn’t need to be on. Turn off the television as you leave the room. It’s only October, we don’t need the central heat on yet!
And now we’re extending that feedback mechanism into the office environment, where we don’t even see the electricity bill. As we make it obvious to people how much energy they’re using – and how they compare to their co-workers we believe behavior will change. We first started focusing on office energy as part of working with industry on hyper-efficient commercial buildings that generate as much or more energy than they consume over the course of a year. In that setting, plug-loads and occupant behavior become critical.
Of course being Intel, we’re also very interested in how technology can make it easier to save energy – concepts as simple as automatically turning off everything that doesn’t need to be on when you leave your home and as complex as having buildings that understand individual environmental preferences and adjust the temperature in a meeting room for greatest comfort and productivity.
We’re just beginning to make energy personal – and would love your suggestions on other needed personal energy innovations.

*These are among the findings from a report S.C. Johnson released yesterday, “The Environment: Public Attitudes and Individual Behavior — A Twenty-Year Evolution.” It follows S.C. Johnson’s 1990 report, “The Environment: Public Attitudes and Individual Behavior,” the predecessor of the Green Gauge consumer survey, which S.C. Johnson called the world’s longest-running survey of consumers’ green attitudes.

One Response to Making Energy Personal

  1. Not only is it the right thing to do, but you will also have a little money along the way. Thanks for the great information and keeping this in front of us (Now if you will excuse me, I have some lights to turn out upstairs).