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MIT sensors determine which home appliances waste energy

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Researchers from MIT have developed sensors that detect the exact energy usage of home appliances, therefore helping determine which appliances waste the most power.

The team has created small wireless sensors which are placed over the incoming power line to a house, picking up spikes and patterns in the voltage and current.

According to MIT News, there are several benefits to this system when compared to other existing energy-monitoring devices. Namely; it is wireless and self-calibrating, and the sensors pick up highly detailed information, with the software being able to detect the difference between every light, motor or device in the home and determine exactly which ones are turned on and off and at what times.

Furthermore, the system is designed so that it remains within the user’s home, and could be supported by apps in future.

Tests have revealed the system’s potential to save energy, greenhouse emissions and even safety, according to MIT. An installation at a military base used for training exercises found that large tents were being heated all day during winter months, even though they were unoccupied for most of the day (thus wasting energy).

Another installation in a home discovered an anomalous voltage pattern that revealed a wiring flaw that caused some plumbing pipes to carry potentially dangerous live voltage.

According to project leader Steven Leeb, Professor of Electrical Engineering, the system should only cost US$25 to $30 per home, once it is commercialised. The wireless sensor is also simple enough for users to install themselves, according to PhD graduate John Donnal.

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