Lights Out - A Sensor That Cuts Your Electricity Usage

If you could save 40% of your electricity costs at the press of a button, you'd probably do it. That's the hope of a group of Architectural Engineering students at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln.

Under the supervision of Assistant Professor Moe Alahmad, the team are developing "an interactive real-time monitor and controller (RTMC) system to influence user behavior based on a continuous impulse saving behavior." Or, put a little more simply, an interactive feedback system that allows you to turn off all the devices that don't need to be on, with one press of your finger.

Through just a single sensor in your house, the team's I-SAVE system utilizes learning algorithms to first show you where energy is being consumed, and then interacts with you to help determine which devices can be turned off when. By identifying each device's unique load signature, the system is able to differentiate - say - between a fridge and a television, thus ensuring that you won't return home to rotting food or be awoken by the nightmarish screams from a horror movie.

The I-SAVE was one of a 22 nominees for PBS' Planet Forward competition, which features innovators that are doing something to make the planet a little healthier. The winner - to be decided by the show's audience in an Earth Day special on Monday, April 18 - will then be followed by the Planet Forward team for a year, to see how the idea evolves.

Enough of the other nominees. The University of Nebraska team explains their idea in this short video:


To be shown for Earth Day, .