Posted on June 26, 2007 Under Gadgetry

When you live in any eco-conscious area, doing your part to save the world becomes a natural extension of your day-to-day routine. You recycle, you bring your own bags to the grocery store, you drive less and bike more. However, a scary thing develops after spending some time in this lifestyle — in my experience, anyway — and you find yourself feeling a little justified in ignoring the other ways you may be messing with the planet. Somehow, by doing a few small things, it seems like you’ve done your part, and are therefor exempt from further responsibility. Yep, it’s a nasty little trick, and because we’re human and seemingly genetically wired for ignorance, it can take a good dose of reality to keep us active in our pursuit of a better earth.

As another side-effect of living in the world as we currently know it, we are also wired to react to numbers. Often, numbers translate as money, something that we all respond to with various degrees of emotion. This is where the Wattson, a brilliant new energy-saving tactic available in the U.K., steps in. Instead of encouraging users to save money and trees through the classic see-and-tell method, the Wattson enables users to learn about personal energy use through interactive play. By connecting itself to all energy-using household appliances, the device measures total electricity being used at any point in time in the house, then displays that amount in either Watts or Pounds Per Year. By creating a visual for something so conceptually tough to imagine, the Wattson teaches users the benefits of conscious energy-usage, and positively reinforces good decision making when it comes to choosing energy sources– or even just leaving lights and electronics on or off. Additionally, the Wattson takes up very little space, looks rather nice, and makes for a decorative home addition (an aesthetic value that likely increases in correlation with the decrease in your energy bill). There’s plenty more to be found about the Wattson on the manufacturer’s site, and my fingers are crossed for U.S. distribution in the next few years — because I am not doing enough as it is, and any form of a solid whack in the gut would be appreciated.