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Innovation Designed To Help Ease Power Woes

Media release: 22 June 2004

Innovation Designed To Help Ease Power Woes

An innovative device, developed in New Zealand, may help ease the cost of power for many Kiwis, while encouraging a reduction in energy consumption and even greenhouse gas emissions.

The Centameter, a portable monitor that allows users to manage their power use in real-time, will made available for the first time in New Zealand this week. The device, the brainchild of Australian inventors Ross Halliwell and Paul Gladwin, which was developed by Christchurch-based company 4D Electronics, was recently awarded the Australian Museum Eureka Prize for innovation.

Ross Halliwell says the Centameter could hold the answer to many of New Zealand¡¦s present power woes.

¡§The Centameter is designed to educate users about their personal electricity use ¡V allowing them to save up to 20% of their power bill by providing them with immediate information about household power costs,¡¨ says Ross Halliwell.

The Centameter combines a simple clip-on sensor/transmitter, which can be installed in any household or office meter-box, and a portable, in-home monitor. The monitor displays real-time power use in cents per hour and is sensitive enough to register the savings made by switching off a single 25-watt light.

New Zealanders faced a series of warnings about electricity supply recently, with the news that 120,000 North Island households are likely to see mid-winter increases in power prices due to last year¡¦s flooding, while South Islanders were told of the possibility of black-outs due to overloading of transmission lines. The warnings mark the third time in four years that New Zealanders have faced winter power disruption.

Power Save Marketing director Gary Mitchell, who is distributing the product in New Zealand, says that with New Zealanders being encouraged to make personal power-savings, the Centameter is the ideal tool for helping consumers manage their electricity use.

¡§The Centameter lets you see how much each appliance costs to use, so you can make an informed choice about what you need to run, and what you should switch off.¡¨

The Centameter, which costs around $170, also measures greenhouse gas emissions in relation to a household¡¦s power use. Electricity production accounts for around 18% of the 30 million tonnes of greenhouse gases produced in New Zealand.

¡§The Centameter puts the power back in the hands of the consumer, allowing them to choose how to make power savings,¡¨ says Gary Mitchell.

The Centameter can be ordered directly through Power Save Marketing on 0800 Centameter or at Units cost $169.95.

For further information:

Gerard Blank Glass Tower Strategic Communications 03 365 1445 or 0274 200 225

The Cent-a-meter

The Cent-a-meter is a wireless electricity monitor that displays the real-time cost of electricity use in cents per hour. The innovative device is designed to educate energy users about the level and cost of their personal power consumption. By encouraging consumers to make informed decisions about power management in their home, office or business, the Cent-a-meter can help people make electricity savings of up to 20 percent.

Designed to educate

The Cent-a-meter is the first educational device of its kind designed for mass consumer appeal and easy installation and use, while offering a wide range of information.ƒx

The Cent-a-meter was conceived by Ross Halliwell, a mechanical engineer with businesses in both New Zealand and Australia. The product was further developed and commercialised by business partner, Paul Gladwin, an electrical engineer, with research and development assistance from 4D Electronics in New Zealand.

In creating the product, inventor Ross Halliwell was inspired by international energy crises, particularly the power shortages experienced in California in 2000. Ross realised that in order to encourage nationwide power savings, consumers needed to be able to manage their own power use in real time.

To create the electricity monitor, Ross enlisted Christchurch-based Geoff Kennedy. Geoff's company, 4D Electronics, has an international reputation for specialising in the "too hard" projects, boasting Hewlett Packard and others as regular clients.
In the design of the Cent-a-meter, Ross knew he needed groundbreaking innovation to solve the many hurdles he had to overcome in new wireless technology and to resolve installation issues. All that Geoff needed was a short brief and two months later he delivered two prototype Cent-a-meters, continuing his consulting work until the final product came off the production line 18 months later.

The product was tested and refined over two years, with extensive in-home evaluation performed in New Zealand and Australia. The Cent-a-meter, which was recently awarded the prestigious Australian Museum Eureka Prize for innovation, was commercially released in Australia in late 2003.

The product will be made available to New Zealanders in July, as the country¡¦s electricity use reaches its peak level.

Knowledge is power

The Cent-a-meter allows in-home or business users to tell how much appliances are costing to run. The sensor is installed in an electricity meter box, using a simple clip on device that transmits information to a portable wireless indoor display.

The easy-to-read monitor can be simply set to local power tariffs and is sensitive enough to measure the savings made by switching off a single light.

The Cent-a-meter offers a range of unique benefits and features:

Intelligent energy management ¡V the Cent-a-meter changes the way consumers think about their personal power use, by giving them real time information and the power to assess the cost of every electrical appliance they use.

Safety ¡V the Cent-a-meter allows users to check from a single location if appliances, such as a heater or oven, have been left on, before leaving their home or office.

Environmental information ¡V the device also measures the amount of greenhouse gases generated by personal electricity use, an added educational aspect for environmentally conscious users.

Ease of installation ¡V the Cent-a-meter can be simply installed in any domestic meter box, using a small clip on sensor that requires no wiring or interruption of power supply.

Simple to use ¡V the educational device, with its push-button menu settings and large LCD screen translates power use into a simply understood reading of cents per hour. The Cent-a-meter has proven to be extremely effective in educating children about the use of power.

Peak load settings ¡V predetermined power usage and cost can be set for the Cent-a-meter, with an alarm alerting users when their power consumption exceeds peak levels.

Home comfort levels ¡V the Cent-a-meter also measures humidity and temperature wherever the portable monitor is used.

Power and current ¡V flows can also be checked using the device, allowing consumers to check the efficiency of individual appliances.


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