A Smarter Plug

Zuli Smartplug
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If you live with your smartphone constantly glued to your hand – slightly guiltily, as I do – then I may have just found a time- and energy-saving reason to continue this abominable habit. You’ve likely heard of Nest – Google’s intelligent answer to an intuitive thermostat control system. Nest is programmable, learns your habits, and it accessible from your iPhone. Incredibly handy! Well, the cutely-named Zuli works similarly to Nest (and is compatible with), but for basically everything else in your home.

Zuli SmartplugThe Zuli system is based on Smartplugs – sleek white boxes which plug into any wall socket and allow an electrical device to be plugged into it. The Smartplus connects these devices to your phone with Bluetooth technology. Using the Zuli app, one can turn electrical appliances on or off entirely, dim lights, and – the coolest part – enable the device to learn and predict your habits.

Say you come home from a long day at work, if you’ve got Zuli the lights turn on to greet you as you open the door. The furnace has been turned on fifteen minutes before your arrival, music is playing so you can get into a sweet cooking groove to whip up some dinner. Or – in a situation more familiar to me who avoids cooking at all costs and works from home – you’re an exhausted mother who has finally managed to soothe a cranky baby. There’s no way you would move a muscle and risk waking the tyrannical child, but since you have your smartphone handy you can dim the lights, turn on the TV and settle in for few blissful hours of Netflix binge watching.

Zuli Smartplug AppIt’s not just that this device is convenient, which it truly is – I’ve begun to think of it as the modern-day equivalent of The Clapper – it’s that Zuli is efficient, too. Each device that gets plugged into a Smartplug can be named and its energy use tracked. You can see just how much power that countertop kettle is sucking up, and evaluate whether using a conventional stovetop one might be better. You can program your home to go dark in your absence, lower the temperature or starve so-called “energy vampires”, devices that devour power even when turned off.

This techy approach to conservation is a becoming a popular one, and that’s a good thing. There will always be those who are attracted to the bare bones simplicity of an environmentally friendly life – you know rough-hewn wood, no artificial lights, homemade everything.  But, products like Zuli help catch a different type of earth-lover: the early adopters, the tech-savvy, the gadget guys and gals. If modern design and smartphone functionality is what it takes to get people on board and becoming more conscious about their consumption of natural resources, it’s worth a shot right!

Definitely more than a catchy name and sexy design, Zuli gives you the data on your home’s energy use and best of all, the means to easily reduce it.

Imagery courtesy of Zuli

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Madeleine Somerville

Madeleine Somerville is the author of All You Need Is Less: An Eco-Friendly Guide to Guilt-Free Green Living and Stress-Free Simplicity. She is a writer, wannabe hippie and lover of soft cheeses. She lives in Edmonton, Canada, with her daughter. You can also find Madeleine at her blog, Sweet Madeleine.