Possible and impossible Greener Gadgets

The second-place winner of the Greener Gadgets design competition, Gravia, is beautiful, functional, and impossible. It’s a four-foot tall lamp powered by five 10-pound weights inside it. The designer claims that flipping the device will produce as much light as a normal light for 4-6 hours. The only problem is that, unless the engineers can come up with an LED that’s 200 times as good as the ones we have now, it’ll only last 90 seconds at best.

EnerJar - courtesy of http://www.enerjar.netWith the second-place winner an impossibility, I got to wondering what the first place winner is. It turns out that it couldn’t be more different. The EnerJar is basically a do-it-yourself Kill-a-Watt in a stylish mason jar.

The EnerJar and Kill-a-Watt (don’t you love the names?) plug in between a wall socket and anything that uses a normal three-prong plug (that is, not a major appliance like a stove). Then, it tells you how many watts that item is currently using. The Kill-a-Watt also does some of the calculations for you and will display results in kilowatt-hours for easy determination of actual electrical costs.

I’ve actually thought about getting a Kill-a-Watt to help reduce energy usage, but I’m not sure it’s worth the $25 to me. We already have CFLs in our lamps and most of our big equipment (stereos, TV, microwave) on power strips that we keep off when not in use. I’ve heard that some libraries will lend out a Kill-a-Watt, but unfortunately ours isn’t one of them. Building one from a kit probably isn’t much cheaper but it would be a fun afternoon activity.

I also have to congratulate the designers on their attitude. Since they won the Greener Gradget prize, they plan to use the money to send out free kits once they start producing them! They definitely feel strongly about helping others cut down on their electrical use.

Even though you can’t have the Gravia’s totally free light, you will soon be able to get a kit to reduce all your other sources of electricity. That’s probably even more useful!

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