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Posted by on Dec 14, 2015 in Articles, Case Studies, Energy, Environment, Others | 0 comments

#15in15 commitment 5: shameless (wirelessly controlled) plug

#15in15 commitment 5: shameless (wirelessly controlled) plug

Jaya Chakrabarti

Jaya Chakrabarti MBE

Vice President – Bristol Chamber of Commerce & Initiative

Take a look at Jaya’s earlier commitments here


Our house, when we’re not in it, requires at least 0.55 kW/hour to run. That covers the NAS, the alarm system, fridges and freezers, boilers, and other appliances that are always on. That’s with all of the lights off, and no washers, dishwashers and dryers going. That’s a bare minimum of 12kWh every day, with evening use on top, which is bigger than your average family of four.

So I’ve been given the perfect opportunity to get my environmental geek on with the Belkin WeMo app controlled plugs that can make sure that if I’ve left the telly or the amp on in the house, I can turn them off from my phone. I can even control my slow cooker with it. I bought these a while ago and whilst there have been a few patches to improve on stability of connection between devices, it’s pretty useful.


The plasma telly alone uses a stupid amount of electricity when left on during the day. The amp too. Time to automate the heavy electricity usage sockets…

 I bought the WeMos because I didn’t want to have to pay a subscription in order to use them on an ongoing basis. Also, there’s a (not-so-good) wi-fi camera which can be used to monitor the house when we go on our far-too-infrequent holidays. They’re not the most versatile products but my requirements were relatively simple.

The hardware isn’t 100% reliable and requires rebooting from time to time BUT you can set particular plugs to turn off at the same time at night, just in case you forget in your tiredness. I made the mistake of setting it to 11.30pm instead of adjusting it for Stuart, who has been intent on playing Fallout Boy late into the night (sorry Stu!), but I’ve now adjusted it now to something more sensible, all via the app. I can even turn the slow cooker on and off remotely using these plugs so all I need now are some more decent recipes to replace the lamb tagine we’ve been having way too regularly as a result. I have found that on numerous occasions I have had to turn off sockets I’ve left on after rushing to work, which means 8 hours worth of savings per day at least. Don’t ask me about ROI – this is more about the planet than reducing my immediate electricity bills.

The other device I’d hoped to have trialled by now but am still waiting for it to be in stock is the wifi video doorbell to make it easier to do home delivery for shopping (saving on time and fuel, AND reducing road congestion). I’ll report back when I finally do have some time to test it.

I’ve only really dipped my toes into the home automation scene with a strict mission to reduce energy usage. If I had more time I’d have probably gone for more stable solutions, but if your expectations aren’t as high as mine you could give one or two home automation devices a try. It might just make a difference to your carbon footprint!



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