HomeCamp 3 – hacking for smart homes, smart energy, and free beer

We had big plans for HomeCamp in 2010, but facts seem to have got in the way. What with Chris joining CurrentCost, and my wife and I having a second child- we didn’t have as much time to apply to the event as it deserved, or the community for that matter. Which is why I am very pleased to announce that we will be homecamping in London on December 13th from 4pm onwards.

We have some great presentations planned, from the likes of AMEE, and IBM.

That’s right. IBM in the home? Surely some mistake? Not so- Andy Piper will be coming along to tell us more about how hackers are using lightweight messaging technology from IBM in all sorts of sustainability/home hacking apps. Given I had my doubts IBM would really go after a pervasive, volume market, led by developers, I am really looking forward to this one…Dave Bartlett from IBM likes to say A Smarter Planet begins with A Smarter Building. Well, perhaps sustainability begins at home. Maybe Andy can tell us how a Smarter Planet begins with a Smarter Home.

But more importantly than great speakers is a nice venue to hang out, catch up on all things homecampy, and drink some beers. Extra special thanks to one of the stalwarts of the homecamp community- Mike Beardmore – for sorting out the venue.

So if you’re interested in home automation protocols and standards, demand response, energy management, the future of smart grids, the role of hackers and alpha geeks as leading indicators for emerging markets, and so on, then HomeCamp is the place to come – you can sign up here. We’d love to see you.


Make people responsible for their energy use to drive down consumption!

Joe Baguley wrote a fantastic post recently on the HomeCamp blog on monitoring energy use in the home. It is a really good read as Joe outlines how he first became interested in home energy monitoring and over time evolved into the “home energy enforcer” (!). He goes through the tools he employed to monitor his home energy use and how, as he evolved to more granular and network accessible information, he was able to make even greater savings on his electricity bills.

What is even better though is how the first comment on the post came from his father, who said:

Pity he did not do this for the 20 plus years he lived at our house, the only way he saved energy then was to lie on the settee and wach me mow the lawns! He neven opened his bedroom curtains as it was easier to reach out of bed and turn on the light.

So there are two very important lessons to be taken from this post:
1. The more information you have about your energy consumption, the easier it is to reduce it and
2. One of the greatest incentives to reducing your energy consumption is having to pay the bills.

Joe didn’t worry about saving electricity while living with his parents, but now that he is paying for his electricity himself, reducing his energy footprint (and by extension his carbon footprint) has taken on a whole new level of importance. As he said himself:

What drove me to do all this was not only a fascination with tech, but more importantly a fascination with not wasting money. Not saving the planet – saving cash. In my experience cash beats morality every time…

I wonder, within businesses, would the best way to reduce energy usage be to expose energy usage information to all the employees (broken down facility, by department and even by individual)? Then make energy reduction part of people’s KPI‘s.

By extension, when electricity information in the home is granular enough, would a good way to reduce it be to assign energy budgets to all the members of the house (especially the kids!)?


Spectacular HomeCamp feedback!

Home Camp – What the community says from chris dalby on Vimeo.

HomeCamp was the first of what I hope will be a series of unconferences around Energy hacking or as they say on the website:

Home Camp is an unconference about using technology to monitor and automate the home for greener resource use and to save costs

The first HomeCamp was in London this last Saturday November 29th and based on Andrew Whitehouse’s write-up and Chris Dalby’s live videos, the day was a phenomenal success.

The video above also gives some flavour of what delegates took away from the day.

I’m really sorry I couldn’t make it along but I do hope to make the next one which will be in March ’09.

[Disclosure: RedMonk were sponsors of HomeCamp]