Blog

Hi there!

We’re Welectricity, and this is our blog.

Welectricity is a simple, low-carbon service that helps you track and reduce your electricity consumption at home.

Feel free to check in here often, to find out what’s happening!

  • Posted by Welectricity

    It's our 2nd Anniversary! Oh yes, it's also Earth Day :D *Celebrations*


    Two years ago today, we had the pleasure of launching Welectricity, our little contribution to the future of our planet.

    Since our launch, we've won two international innovation awards and users from 99 countries worldwide have registered to use our ground-breaking service.

    It's been an interesting ride so far and we're working to make this year even better - stay tuned!

  • Posted by Welectricity

    GHS Young Leaders enlist Welectricity to help save money, energy (and the planet)



    Motivated by the theme “Our World, Our Climate, Our Problem, Our solution”, the members of the Girls High School Young Leaders Programme 2012 are embarking on a mission to develop initiatives that will help citizens of St Vincent & The Grenadines reduce their environmental impact and save some money in the process.


    Young they may be, but the group of fourteen to sixteen-year old students see themselves as environmental activists and educators at the local level, with plans to “make a positive change in the behaviours and attitudes of communities.”  They have created a website for their programme (www.ghsyoungleaders.com); created their own theme for the 2012 mission and are now encouraging Vincentians to buy locally-produced food, to use renewable energy where possible and to use less energy at home.


    Now, in keeping with their aim to work along with local businesses and other non-profit organisations to take action against Climate Change, the students have commenced a project with Welectricity (www.welectricity.com), an innovative, internationally-awarded social network created by Vincentian Herbert (Haz) Samuel to help households track, compare and reduce their electricity consumption.  As the GHS Young Leaders website notes, “Our work with Welectricity helps Young Leaders and other Vincentians save energy, money and thus reduce our carbon footprint.”


    The GHS Young Leaders 2012 programme is sponsored by St Vincent Electricity Services Ltd (VINLEC) and runs until April 20th, 2012.  Welectricity’s founder however sees the relationship with the school as a long-term one, and also the beginning of a larger national campaign: “We’d love to introduce Welectricity to all of the schools in the country” he says.  “We hope to be able to engage students with the idea of saving energy at home, using the tools and media that they are comfortable with.” 


    For the project, the Young Leaders will sign up for Welectricity and add information from their household electricity bills.  Then, over the next several weeks, they will track their electricity consumption by way of weekly meter readings, while devising and following energy-saving plans.  Fun prizes will be offered to the top achievers at the end of the project.


    Please visit the GHS Young Leaders website at www.ghsyoungleaders.com for more information.

  • Posted by Welectricity

    Fear is temporary. Regret is forever.




    I saw that slogan on a t-shirt a few days ago while in the immigration queue at London’s Heathrow Airport.  The man wearing it was a stocky, relaxed-looking fellow who had just disembarked a flight from Europe.  I said to him “I like that” and, half-jokingly, added “you must be an entrepreneur”.  He laughed and said “Bungee jumping!”


    “Oh – same thing!” I said, and we both laughed.


    The slogan pretty much sums up how I feel, as someone building a brand-new business, almost every day.  The fear is always there, but the thing that conquers it is: knowing that the alternative is worse.


    Must remember to get myself one of those t-shirts...


    H A Samuel / @welectricity

  • Posted by Welectricity

    Gamification



    I don’t recall exactly when I first came across the term “gamification”.  I tweeted a link to an article about it in December 2010 and my first premeditated use of the word was in an email, sent in February this year.


    The term refers to the incorporation of game mechanics – elements of traditional computer game play – in products and services, to engage and motivate people to do real-world things.  In particular, it’s being applied to things people probably aren’t so eager to do – like saving more money (instead of splurging on the latest smartphone), or exercising more, and so on.


    Now, the term is everywhere.  Audrey Crane, in a May 24, 2011 article for UX Magazine noted that


    Gamification is a hot topic. Missed it? On Google Trends it first appeared as a blip in late October 2010 and then took off in January so quickly that it appeared on NPR’s Weekend Edition in March. Investors seem interested, and it already has a sold-out conference and a fast-growing list of agencies that will help you “do gamification.”


    I’ve used the term on twitter and Facebook maybe a dozen times in the past couple of weeks and I’ve just added it to a presentation I’m putting together.  So why the sudden interest on my part? 


    It turns out that Welectricity, launched in April 2010 (six months before gamification was even a blip on Google's radar) to help consumers track, compare and reduce their electricity consumption, is an example of what Crane refers to as “basis gamification”.  In other words, Welectricity is fundamentally built on a gamification concept – the entire offering is a real-world game.


    Crane’s article and a couple of other presentations I’ve found (Defining Social Networks in Switzerland - click through to slides 63/64 - by Relax in the Air and Game on: Everything you need to know about how games are changing the world - from slide 114 -  by Jeremy Johnson) cite Welectricity as an example of the gamification of energy efficiency.  And they mention us in good company – right next to companies like sports giant Nike and groundbreaking finance service Mint.com!


    Needless to say, I’m happy to find out that Welectricity was a pioneer in the social gamification of energy savings even before I knew what that was.


    Herbert A Samuel



    Tags: welectricity, social gamification, energy efficiency, energy saving, smart grid, social networking

  • Posted by Welectricity

    We've partnered with SmartPower, to bring Energy Efficiency home!



    We're excited to announce that Welectricity and SmartPower Ventures of Washington, DC have formed a strategic partnership to deliver energy efficiency to Caribbean consumers!  Here's the SmartPower media release - and watch this space for developments!


     


     

  • Posted by Welectricity

    Memo to Google, Microsoft: Consumers need Motivation, not Information




    Dear Google, Microsoft,


    When you entered the home energy monitoring space in 2009 it was early days, but most observers expected big things to ensue.  Now that you’ve announced the death of your products, opinion is divided on what went wrong.  (Death announcements: Google PowerMeter, Microsoft Hohm).


    On the side of those dismayed by the news is Tom Raftery, writing on The Energy Collective blog.  He laments the demise of both products, noting that they were “decidedly disruptive” and opines that the “need for real-time energy information is obvious.”


    On the other side is Eric Wesoff at GreenTechMedia, who questions whether “average American[s] want to spend several hours a week and several hundred dollars to analyze their energy usage”.  His answer, partly based on a tongue-in-cheek survey he conducted: they don’t.


    I’m on Wesoff’s side of the debate.  Admittedly, his survey was scientifically unsound: he was the sole respondent.  And perhaps he’s not your ‘average American’ either.  Also, he conflates the trend of throwing gadgets at the problem with the Google and Microsoft approaches.  Neither of you specifically offered a device, but your products were pretty much dependent on access to a smart meter or some other monitoring device.  And both were definitely dependent on big data: consumers had to be willing to spend time doing stuff like filling out extensive household energy profiles (Microsoft) and drilling down into granular consumption data.


    So here’s my take.  But first, full disclosure: I’m not the average American either (I’m not even American! – but what we’re trying to tackle here is a global problem and many countries are becoming more ‘American’ in their consumption habits, which makes it even more important that the problem is solved).


    I think your services didn’t work out because you were trying to solve the wrong problem.  You focused on Information.  It’s true that consumers get poor information from their utilities about their energy consumption it's aggregated, it’s long after the fact; in short, it’s not ‘actionable’.  So, you solved the information problem, by giving people more and better information.  But regular folks don’t want to spend their time analyzing real-time, fifteen-minute-interval variations in their household kiloWatt loads.  On top of that is the well-established (though not widely-recognised) finding that information, on its own, has no significant or lasting effect on energy consumption behavior. 


    The key insight here is that consumers need motivation, not information.  If you’re trying to get people to change their behavior, throwing copious amounts of information at them won’t do it.  Real-time energy consumption information is only likely to engage and motivate the people who already want to be engaged with it – folks affectionately known as ‘geeks’.


    Admit it, guys – you developed these services to appeal to people like yourselves, didn’t you?   The thing is: you’re not regular folks (that’s why you’re working at Google and Microsoft in the first place).  The people who loved PowerMeter and Hohm were just like you.  The others – the vast majority of people – were left unmoved.  Faced with this reality, the sad fact is that your recent announcements were both predictable and inevitable.  But, all is not lost.  We can still do this, if we focus on some basic things:


    1.    It’s not about information

    Let’s put information in its proper context.  It’s only one of several things that consumers need, in order to be motivated to reduce their consumption of anything (for example: there’s an unprecedented amount of information and advice available to today’s consumers about weight loss, but America’s obesity problem is staggering and the World Health Organization reckons that the world is suffering from a growing obesity problem of epidemic proportions).


    2.    It’s about behavior, not technology

    Technology is sexy and it works once it’s directed at the right problem, but throwing a bunch of hundred-dollar home energy dashboards at a behavioral problem isn’t going to solve it.  The other downside?  All those energy monitoring devices that will end up in the kitchen drawer would simply have added more carbon to the environment, exacerbating the very problem we’re trying to solve. 


    So what’s needed is to figure out how to motivate regular folks, then, build something that does so.  What that ‘something’ will be remains to be seen – but at least, we now have a better idea what it won’t be.


    I’d love to get your feedback on this.


    -------


    H A Samuel / @welectricity


     

  • Posted by Welectricity

    The Google Paradox


    When Google announced its PowerMeter home energy monitoring tool in February 2009, the event seemed a harbinger of something big.


    After all, this was Google, one of the smartest, biggest companies on the web, launching a ‘killer app’ into the then-new home energy management space.  And when Microsoft launched its competing product (the clunkily-named Microsoft Hohm) in June of the same year, the lines of an epic battle were drawn. Echoing the sentiments of many, senior greentech industry blogger Martin LaMonica called Microsoft’s entry “a move that stands to shake up home-energy monitoring”.


    Two years on, things look a bit different. 


    Last month LaMonica reported that Microsoft, “disappointed with the uptake of its Hohm Web application for home energy efficiency”, was moving to plan B – shifting the product focus to emphasize electric-vehicle charging.  And a few days ago, Google officially announced that its PowerMeter API had been “deprecated”.


    In layman’s terms, it’s probably safe to say that the plug on each of these products has been pulled.


    What went wrong?  Why did these products, delivered to us by two of the world’s iconic high-tech firms, essentially fail?


    I think they failed because they ignored the layman.  Designed and built by geeks, these products connected with geeks – who undeniably are a vanishingly small fraction of the general population.  Remember Google Wave, another blockbuster, category-killer product from Google’s labs?  It died last August, apparently for the same reason – it was just too darn complicated.  One bit of key evidence: the demo video that explained how the product worked ran an hour-and-a-half.


    There was also a more fundamental problem.  PowerMeter’s basic proposition was that if you give people detailed information about their energy consumption; they will be motivated to do something about it.  Unfortunately this proposition is, on the face of it, false (though it does work for some people who are already motivated). 


    It is now well-established, though not widely recognized, that information on its own has no significant effect on such outcomes as whether consumers save energy, lose weight or smoke less; therefore, providing more granular information won’t help.  We now know that consumers need motivation, not information – and motivation arises from the complex interaction of several behavioral and other factors, only one of which is information. 


    The paradox is that Google took a complex problem, reduced it to a simple, but flawed proposition and then proceeded to build a complex solution on top of that – eventually bringing down the entire edifice.


    It’s obviously not in Google’s DNA to do simple stuff.  But for PowerMeter, perhaps that was part of the problem.  Or as Leonardo da Vinci, arguably the greatest genius the world has known, put it 500 or so years ago, we should believe that “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”. 


    --------


    Herbert A Samuel



  • Posted by Welectricity

    A "novel match between a solution and a need"


    We're excited to announce that Welectricity is a winner of the 2011 Knowledge@Wharton/Wipro Innovation Tournament, held on April 27th at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.  We won the award for "Best New Sustainability Innovation", from a field of innovations submitted from all over the world. 


    This is the third innovation award that Welectricity has won. Read about it in this article from Knowledge@Wharton.


     

  • Posted by Welectricity

    It’s our birthday, so we’re giving ourselves a gift – a Strategic Advisory Board!



    We launched Welectricity on Earth Day 2010 and we’ve had a fulfilling and exciting year since then.  As our first birthday gift to ourselves, we’re extremely pleased to announce the formation of Welectricity’s Strategic Advisory Board, which will be helping us shape our strategy as we go forward. 


    It’s a small, but awesome group.  On board we have a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, a Stanford psychology professor and a former Caribbean energy minister.  It’s our pleasure to introduce them here.


    Ryan Kuder


    Ryan Kuder is a marketer and entrepreneur who started his first business when he was eight years old selling reusable classroom points sheets to fellow fourth graders.  Born and raised in Encinitas, California, Ryan has lived in Silicon Valley since 2000 and worked for startups and Fortune 500 companies alike.  


    Ryan is currently Vice President of Marketing at Bizzy, a location-based recommendation engine that’s redefining the way consumers share their opinions about local businesses and find new businesses they'll love. Prior to Bizzy, Ryan worked with early stage startups as VP of Marketing and Product at web development shop Koombea. Before that, Ryan ran international marketing for Yahoo! Mail and Yahoo! Search and spent time in product management at eBay.


    Ryan specializes in working with early stage companies helping them develop product market fit, define product strategy and develop their go to market plans. He's always happy to talk with entrepreneurs and throw out ideas over a martini. 


    Ewart Thomas


    Ewart A.C. Thomas is a Professor of Psychology at Stanford University, USA.  He was born in Guyana, and received his BSc degree in Mathematics from the University of the West Indies, Jamaica in 1963.  He then went to Cambridge University in England, where he received his PhD in Statistics in 1967.  After research and teaching posts at University College London and the University of Michigan, he joined the Stanford faculty in 1972. 


    Ewart teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in Statistics.  His research interests include the development and application of mathematical and statistical models in many areas, such as signal detection, motivation, parent-infant interaction, sociolinguistics, and law as a social science.


    He has served as Chair of the Psychology Department and from 1988 to 1993, he served as Dean of the University's School of Humanities and Sciences.  In 1989 he received an honorary doctorate from the University of the West Indies, and in 2002 he received a Distinguished Teaching award from the Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU).  In 2008 Thomas was the Ralph and Claire Landau Visiting Professor of Psychology at The Chinese University of Hong Kong.


    Liz Thompson


    A lawyer by training, Henrietta Elizabeth (Liz) Thompson of Barbados is an Assistant Secretary General at the United Nations, with responsibility as Executive Coordinator of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio 2012).  Liz holds an LLM from the Robert Gordon University in Scotland and an MBA from the University of Liverpool, UK. She is also trained in economics, and arbitration, negotiation and dispute resolution.


    Liz was minister of environment and energy in the Barbados government from 1994 to 2008. More recently, Liz, as head of the Barbados delegation to the 13th Session of the Conference of Parties to the UNFCCC, was a member of a small group of ministers who finalized the Bali Action Plan. In 2008 she was named a “Champion of the Earth” by the United Nations Environment Programme.  From 2008 to 2010 she led a consultancy practice in the Caribbean specialising in energy, environment and economics and was contracted to develop sustainable energy policies and strategies for three Caribbean countries.


    Liz has led numerous projects at local and community level including greening communities, the establishment of the Caribbean’s first hostel for persons living with HIV and AIDS, the reduction of mother to child transmission of HIV and the creation of special housing and care opportunities for low income earners and the elderly.

  • Posted by Welectricity

    Energy Efficiency meets Social Networking - and they like each other :)


    Last October, as he participated in the launch of a new $250M venture fund for social startups, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg opined that the “opportunity is there in the next 5 years… to pick any industry and re-imagine it in the social web”. 


    This idea of a world increasingly powered by social interactions is fundamental to Welectricity – which is why we’ve just launched key new features that let you connect your Facebook and Twitter accounts to Welectricity, so that Welectricity updates can be automatically posted to your network feeds.  So for example, if your latest bill shows reduced energy consumption, the good news automatically gets shared on your Facebook wall and Twitter feed.


    We’re excited to roll out this new feature set (and we’ve issued a press release about it that you can read here).


    We’re also excited that we got a nice mention on Mashable yesterday, in an article on How Social Media will make the Smart Energy Grid more Efficient, by Chikodi Chima.  According to Chima, “the social concept will be at the heart” of new developments in the consumer-facing smart grid.  


    Energy efficiency and social networking have been introduced, and it looks like they'll get along just fine.

  • Posted by Welectricity

    Exciting News for Facebook and Twitter users!


    Ready to save money on your electricity bills – and to share the good news?  Now you can connect your Facebook and Twitter accounts to Welectricity and share your achievements with your Facebook friends and your Twitter followers.


    For new users, go to http://welectricity.com/sign_in and login with your Facebook or Twitter login.  You’ll get an email to confirm your registration, then just go ahead and complete your Welectricity profile to get started.


    For existing Welectricity users, login with your normal Welectricity login, then go to your profile page and connect Facebook and Twitter.


    Then you can add your bills, invite friends and see how you’re doing compared to others like you – and your Facebook friends and your Tweeps will see your updates!  After all: why keep good news to yourself?

  • Posted by Welectricity

    Happiness, Prosperity and Lower Electricity Bills in 2011!



    Dear Friend,

    We launched Welectricity 8 months ago to give you and your friends a free, easy, low-carbon way to track, compare and reduce your electricity consumption at home.  

    It's been an exciting year.  

    Since our launch on Earth Day, users from 64 countries worldwide have signed up to use our award-winning service.

    In September, Welectricity was named a "Green Game-Changer" by the WWF, the world's largest independent conservation organisation and a leading advocate for global sustainability.

    In November, out of over 3,800 ideas submitted from over 150 countries to GE's Ecomagination Challenge -- Powering the Smart Grid -- Welectricity emerged with an Ecomagination Consumer Innovation Award for "Best Idea for The Millennial".

    And, over the next few weeks, we’ll be rolling out some exciting new features that will help you connect with your community of friends, to save some money -- and the planet!

    We are thrilled and extremely grateful for your support in 2010.  We thank you and wish you happiness, prosperity and lower electricity bills in 2011.

    Happy New Year!


    The Welectricity team

  • Posted by Welectricity

    Ten Tweets in '10


    Twitter was a fun and extremely useful tool for us in 2010.  Here are 10 of our favorite tweets for the year, in chronological order. 

    Five of the tweets listed here  are specifically about Welectricity, but the others exemplify what Twitter does best: provide a great stream of focused, valuable information, in one place.

    Have a productive 2011!




    1


    RT @grist Never mind what people believe - how can we change what they do? A chat with Dr Robert B Cialdini, PhD http://bit.ly/57QNey
    14 Jan




    2


    -›  RT @SmartGridNews Facebook, meet the #smartgrid: Social media-style Web site encourages energy efficiency http://htxt.it/GU8s
    23 Apr




    3


    Jack Ma: Small Is Beautiful - http://nyti.ms/9cCdcU
    2 May




    4


    -›  Should we use tons of energy & CO2, to create more stuff, to help us use less energy/emit less CO2? http://welectricity.com/blog/3
    10 May




    5


    ACEEE study: Smart Meters not smart enough to significantly reduce consumer electricity bills http://bit.ly/hZTfKn
    2 Jul




    6


    -›  A Welectricity user: "A most awesome way to save money on your electricity bills. Its like weight watchers for energy." http://cot.ag/d58Gc6
    22 Jul




    7


    -›  RT @RobertCialdini  For a smart and free way to use Social Proof and Commitment & Consistency to save energy, click the link. http://bit.ly/arKOMU ^EV
    27 Aug




    8


    Wired.com "Good Enough tech. Cheap, fast, simple tools are suddenly everywhere." http://bit.ly/gdnuf
    30 Aug




    9


    -›  "Best Idea for the Millennial" in GE Ecomagination Consumer Innovation Awards goes to Welectricity | http://bit.ly/asrUaI
    17 Nov




    10


    RT @hnshah 256 Must-Read Content For All Tech Entrepreneurs http://kiss.ly/cxCvHL /by @stanleytang #bestof2010 #startup
    21 Dec




    Are you following Welectricity on twitter?  Now's a good time :)

  • Posted by Welectricity

    Welectricity wins GE Ecomagination Consumer Innovation Award "Best Idea for the Millennial"



    At a live Ecomagination awards ceremony in New York City on Tuesday, GE announced twelve companies in which they will invest $55 million, five "Innovation Award" winners and five "Consumer Innovation Award" winners.

    The announcement was the most recent milestone in GE's $200 million Ecomagination Challenge, their committment to find, fund and develop the best, most innovative ideas and businesses that will power the smart grid of the 21st century.

    And Welectricity was one of the five consumer innovation award winners, receiving an award for "Best idea of The Millennial".

    As such, we receive a $10,000 grant to continue developing our product and the recognition of having been chosen by GE as an Ecomagination winner.  We're thrilled to get this recognition, and very excited about the future prospects for our free, low-carbon, social energy efficiency service.  Stay tuned!

  • Posted by Welectricity

    The future consumer-facing smart grid: a meter, a web app and a mobile phone



    What will the consumer-facing smart grid look like?  A post by Katie Fehrenbacher on GigaOm this week notes that while utilities are installing the infrastructure for smarter power grids, “it will be the applications that run on top of these networks that will drive a lot of the revenues for companies, and ultimately provide the important functionality for consumers and utilities.”

    I agree with her assessment.  I’d like to go a little further, and suggest that the future configuration of the consumer-facing smart grid will be a combination of three things: a smart meter, a web app and a smart phone.

    Despite some doubts expressed by some (me included) about the wholesale push into smart metering, it’s a pretty safe bet that those devices are here to stay.   Owned by, and providing real benefits to the utility, smart meters are likely to be a money-maker for utilities in the long run.

    What about the smart sensors and controllers – the networked collection of in-home devices that will gather real-time energy consumption information from appliances and send the data to a central console for viewing and control action by the householder and/or the utility?  Quite a few companies have emerged in this segment of the so-called home energy management space – and there’s fierce competition developing, along with a rising tide of mergers and acquisitions.

    I think that stuff is pretty neat (I’m an engineer, after all) but I also think most of it will go away in a few years (a SmartGridNews staff report this week considers the home energy management sector as “waaaayyy overcrowded”).  Once standards (especially for data security protocols) get set and adopted and appliances get smart, the same sensing and control capabilities will increasingly be built into the appliances themselves, which will directly communicate with the smart meter.  GE is apparently readying its rollout of a range of smart appliances that may set the pace for this trend.

    In any case, the success of companies like Opower points to a subversive fact: a lot of these home energy networking devices….(gasp) aren’t even necessary anyway!  Why?  Because energy consumption is fundamentally about human behavior.  A British economist named W Stanley Jevons pointed out in 1866 why throwing more efficient technology at the problem of increasing consumption doesn’t necessarily solve it.  A household equipped with the basic energy efficient appliances (CFLs, front-load washers, etc) and using behavioral nudges, can save just as much energy and carbon over time, as the set-it-and-forget-it networked dream house of the future.  Bear in mind that every smart meter or in-home device has an up-front, built-in energy and carbon footprint based on its materials, manufacture, packaging and shipping (the upcoming Story of Electronics, part of the seminal Story of Stuff Project, may have some details on this).

    The web app (provided to the utility by a third party) will interface with the smart meter and will collect, sort and present the consumption data to the consumer on a dashboard, so that the consumer has the necessary information and other motivational nudges to be more energy efficient.  This area is also developing and some of the names in this space are huge, familiar and developing super-sophisticated offerings crammed with databases and complex algorithms (Google, Microsoft); others, not so much (Welectricity).

    And finally, the consumer will view that dashboard on the web – which, increasingly, means on a smart phone.  So, in-home display devices, now also coming much into vogue, will eventually go away as well, since none of these will be able to match the sheer convenience and multi-functionality of tomorrow’s smart phones.

    Some wag once said “I never make predictions: especially about the future”.  That might be a good policy, but it’s no fun.  So, what’s your take on this?  I’d love to get your feedback, at haz@welectricity.com.

  • Posted by Welectricity

    Imagination: the raw material of progress



    The GE Ecomagination contest comes to an end today and I'd like to make a few comments about it.  It's been an incredible ride and I sincerely commend GE for their own innovation - not in launching the contest, but in making it a global contest.  That was a master stroke.

    I would also like to applaud the work of the many people who have submitted their ideas.  The variety and depth of the ideas and innovations presented demonstrate that there's no shortage of imagination, the raw material of progress.  I've voted already for my favorites and I'm really sorry I didn't have enough time to go through many of the others, as I'm sure I would have cast many more votes.

    I  also want to say something about a topic that has been much mentioned within the past few weeks - the voting patterns that have been observed among the top 10 contenders.

    From the beginning, my strategy (which was first suggested to me by my wife) to get votes for Welectricity was to share the idea with the people of my country, St Vincent & The Grenadines, and the wider Caribbean, and to mobilise national pride in one of our own.  St Vincent & The Grenadines (SVG) has a population of only 100,000 and our people are generally very proud to know that a son of the soil is engaged in prestigious matters on a global stage. 

    Our outreach has been to businesses, colleges and high schools as well as to the general public.  Our method has been to try to make it easy for people who want to vote, to be able to do so.  So, on Saturday August 21st, we set up a voting booth on a busy street in the main city, Kingstown (photos here http://bit.ly/wevoting ).  It was just two tables, some chairs, several notebook computers manned by friends, and a billboard.  We explained Welectricity to passersby and we got a great response.  Some people had already heard about it from the radio spots I had been doing. 

    We did that every Saturday following, and we're doing it again today.  I also did the same at the SVG Community College, the Teachers College and at a few other business and institutional locations.  So, to the observers who mention IP logging as a means of determining the validity of votes, I just want to point out the reason why some of our votes have been generated on the same computers during the course of a single day.  Yesterday for example, at the Teachers College, I had four notebooks set up and got over 100 votes between 10 am and 7 pm from students who were very enthusiastic about the idea and pleased to have the opportunity to support a local innovation on the global stage.

    Apart from that, I have used the normal channels that others would have used: Facebook, Twitter, the mainstream media, personal contacts. 

    The response has been fantastic and I want to thank all of the people who have supported and voted for Welectricity.  I believe Welectricity can and will make a difference in its own way, and I am delighted to have had the opportunity to participate in this contest.

    Herbert A (Haz) Samuel

  • Posted by Welectricity

    Will you help Welectricity make a difference?


    Dear Welectricity User,

    Since our launch just 3 months ago, we have reached out to users in 33 countries who have been inspired to take an innovative approach to reducing their electricity consumption.

    Now, we need your help to show the world that your decision to join Welectricity was just simply brilliant!

    Welectricity is a contender in the GE Ecomagination Challenge, a global contest to find and fund the world's best ideas that will help to power the 21st Century smart grid.

    We believe that Welectricity's free, low-carbon, user-based approach to energy efficiency represents one of those ideas – and you can help us to prove it, by voting for Welectricity in the GE Ecomagination challenge.  The link for you to cast your vote is here http://bit.ly/vote4we

    Thanks for joining Welectricity – and thank you for your support in this exciting new challenge!

  • Posted by Welectricity

    Radical actions for radical times


    Getting people to change their behavior is hard, but it can be done.

    The first thing required is recognition that there’s a problem.

    In this case, the problem is our addiction to the consumption of more and more stuff as an end in itself, which directly fuels our ongoing dependence on fossil fuels, which in turn is slowly destroying our planet.

    Perhaps there’s a growing recognition that this is a problem. But recognition, though necessary, is not sufficient. Another thing needed is leadership. Somebody has to set the example for others to follow. In that case, why not use high-profile people who we're already looking at?

    Our politicians are required (at least, in mature democracies) to publicly disclose their personal finances. So, why don’t we get them to disclose their energy footprint at home as well? This would give them an incentive to reduce their consumption (so as to look good in the eyes of the public) and would provide a powerful example for us all to follow.

    A radical suggestion?

    Maybe. But today, which is World Environment Day and which also happens to be day 47 of the man-made, ongoing BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, we should recognize that we need radical ideas and actions now, more than ever.

  • Posted by Welectricity

    A Shared Mission


    I found Chris Baskind's blog (http://moreminimal.com) tonight, which has inspired me to post this.

    I'd already been following Chris on Twitter, but have only just gotten around to checking his other writing out. He lives in Florida and he's been writing some powerful stuff on the unfolding BP oil disaster that threatens him and us all.

    Chris describes himself as someone who believes that "life is better and the Earth is happier when we use fewer resources". As I tweeted shortly after reading it, that statement could well be Welectricity's motto.

    In fact, our mission statement is pretty close! It's:

    "To motivate the world to live better by consuming less".

    It's a shared mission. We're excited to see that it's shared by people who are making a difference - and we're working very hard to share it with you.

    Haz Samuel

  • Posted by Welectricity

    When's the last time you were excited to get your electricity bill?


    Now that we’ve set up our bills on Welectricity and have linked up with some friends to compare our electricity consumption, we’ve noticed something strange – we now look forward to receiving our electricity bill!

    This unusual phenomenon is also reported by at least one other member.

    The reason, of course, is that using Welectricity is giving us access to information and feedback on our own electricity use as well as that of others, and it’s allowing us to set goals for reducing our consumption.

    For example: our consumption had gone up by 9% in March (that was before we started using Welectricity). So when we started, our first goal was to bring this back down. We set a 10% reduction goal and printed our action plan for April. When the April bill arrived and I entered the numbers… we had achieved exactly a 10% reduction!

    That was sweet.

    Now, we’re trying to bring it down a little more this month. When’s that bill coming out anyway…?

  • Posted by Welectricity

    Introducing... Welectricity!


    We're pleased to introduce Welectricity; a free service that helps you track and reduce your electricity consumption at home.

    Welectricity is designed around a couple of basic ideas:

    1. It’s a network

    In order for you to reduce your consumption, you need a few simple things. You need information about your consumption. But, studies have shown that information by itself won’t help you much. You also need to get feedback, you need the ability to compare your consumption to others like you and you need to be able to set goals and make plans for reducing your electricity use. So, we designed Welectricity as a social network that provides these things.

    2. It’s low-carbon

    You don’t need a smart meter to use Welectricity. You don’t need an in-home energy monitor. No new stuff needs to be manufactured, packaged, shipped, purchased, driven out to your home and installed. All you need is access to an internet-connected computer and your electricity bills. After all, what’s the point of using a whole lot of energy and carbon emissions to bring you a bunch of new stuff that’s meant to help you use less energy and emit less carbon?

    We think of it as our little contribution to the planet – and we’re honored to be able to bring it to you on Earth Day 2010. We hope you enjoy it.