HeatMeter: A Cloud-Based Energy Sensor to Improve Efficiency

If every household in America improved their heating efficiency by 16 percent, it would have the same impact as taking all cars in the state of California off the road. Accomplishing this technical feat is manageable, and it doesn’t require a solar panel on every roof.

Here’s the key issue: it’s very difficult to know if your home is a 'gas-guzzling-Hummer' or a 'fuel-sipping-Prius' when it comes to heating. We measured the energy consumption of dozens of homes this past winter in the Boston area, and found that some homes use three times more energy per square foot than others. And the people who live there didn't even know about it. Chances are that if you haven’t gotten an energy audit recently, you might not know where your home stands either.

This is where my team and I come in, with a home heating efficiency sensor that we’ve been developing. We’re a bunch of engineering geeks from MIT and we’ve built a low-cost, universal sensor that sends real-time efficiency information right to your smartphone.
We’re convinced that awareness inspires action. People may believe that they’re being efficient by turning down their thermostats a few degrees, but in reality the quality of their insulation and the efficiency of their heating systems matters much more. These issues are largely invisible to homeowners, because it takes a technician to stop by every home and run an individual audit. This approach is expensive and difficult to scale, as it requires thousands of technicians to check every home.

We wanted to find a better, less complicated, and less expensive way for homeowners to keep tabs on their energy usage. Simplicity and cost-management were key in our design process: in some of the cases we saw in Boston, lower-income homes were so poorly insulated that simple sealing improvements would pay for themselves in less than 6 months. Again, the people living there were unaware of this. We aimed to make our sensor affordable for every homeowner, whether they’re an energy-enthusiast trying to be as efficient as possible, or the average homeowner trying to save a few bucks on heating bills. We see no downside to this approach.
Our sensor—The HeatMeter—enables energy monitoring for propane, natural gas and oil for the first time. These are the most common heating fuels in America. The sensor installs in less than five minutes with no professional help. The heating technicians that we showed this to were blown away by what it can do, and we believe that you will be, too.
You can support us by checking out our Kickstarter.


This month, challenge a neighbor to GOOD's energy smackdown. Find a neighbor with a household of roughly the same square footage and see who can trim their power bill the most. Throughout February, we'll share ideas and resources for shrinking your household carbon footprint, so join the conversation at

House image originally from Shutterstock; second and third images courtesy of Radu Gogoana.\n
via Douglas Muth / Flickr

Sin City is doing something good for its less fortunate citizens as well as those who've broken the law this month. The city of Las Vegas, Nevada will drop any parking ticket fines for those who make a donation to a local food bank.

A parking ticket can cost up to $100 in Las Vegas but the whole thing can be forgiven by bringing in non-perishable food items of equal or greater value to the Parking Services Offices at 500 S. Main Street through December 16.

The program is designed to help the less fortunate during the holidays.

Keep Reading Show less

For more than 20 years. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has served the citizens of Maine in the U.S. Senate. For most of that time, she has enjoyed a hard-fought reputation as a moderate Republican who methodically builds bridges and consensus in an era of political polarization. To millions of political observers, she exemplified the best of post-partisan leadership, finding a "third way" through the static of ideological tribalism.

However, all of that has changed since the election of Donald Trump in 2016. Voters in Maine, particularly those who lean left, have run out of patience with Collins and her seeming refusal to stand up to Trump. That frustration peaked with the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

Keep Reading Show less
via / Flickr and Dimitri Rodriguez / Flickr

Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign looks to be getting a huge big shot in the arm after it's faced some difficulties over the past few weeks.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a leading voice in the Democratic parties progressive, Democratic Socialist wing, is expected to endorse Sanders' campaign at the "Bernie's Back" rally in Queens, New York this Saturday.

Fellow member of "the Squad," Ilhan Omar, endorsed him on Wednesday.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by HAL9001 on Unsplash

The U.K. is trying to reach its goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, but aviation may become the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.K. by that same year. A new study commissioned by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) and conducted at the Imperial College London says that in order for the U.K. to reach its target, aviation can only see a 25% increase, and they've got a very specific recommendation on how to fix it: Curb frequent flyer programs.

Currently, air travel accounts for 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions, however that number is projected to increase for several reasons. There's a growing demand for air travel, yet it's harder to decarbonize aviation. Electric cars are becoming more common. Electric planes, not so much. If things keep on going the way they are, flights in the U.K. should increase by 50%.

Nearly every airline in the world has a frequent flyer program. The programs offer perks, including free flights, if customers get a certain amount of points. According to the study, 70% of all flights from the U.K. are taken by 15% of the population, with many people taking additional (and arguably unnecessary) flights to "maintain their privileged traveler status."

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet