App designers recognize smart phones as one of the most innovation-enabling platforms for app development. The devices are always on hand, offer the ability to push notifications to the user and are significantly easier than computers for developing apps. This means that developers are willing to take risks and enter markets where they would be hesitant to otherwise.
It’s no surprise, then, that they jumped into the greener living initiative in a big way recently. Some of these new apps are simple and do their jobs well, while others are much more complex and criticized as being overly expensive alternatives to tried and true methods.
Seeing that public support for energy conservation is at an all-time high, British Gas designed a smart-phone app that allows their customers to control gas usage remotely. The Guardian reports that the app has been met with mixed reviews.
The App Is Innovative, But Does the Service Justify the High Price Tag?
Using the app, tech-savvy customers can change their thermostat from work or on holiday so that no gas is wasted on heating the home when they are out. Then, on their way home, they can turn the heat back on so the temperature is warm on arrival.
Sounds ideal, right? But critics point out that most people will need to pay £229 to buy the wireless thermostat and hardware that makes it all possible. For people whose heating system is working well, this may be an unnecessary cost.
Many wonder if that money could be better spent on greener heating options such as biomass boilers and heat pumps. Others point out that manually managing temperature settings can have the same basic effect without the high price tag.
Other Apps Take Different Approaches With Mixed Results
British Gas isn’t the first to see the potential of green apps. JouleBug is a free app that capitalizes on the average smart-phone user’s love of games and achievements to promote a greener lifestyle. The app tracks your habits and suggests ways to be more environmentally conscious. Players who make the changes earn trophies and can compete with their friends.
While JouleBug is aimed at changing a variety of daily habits, FuelGood (also free) narrows the focus to driving habits. After you input your vehicle’s model, make, age and engine size, the app makes suggestions on driving and fuelling habits, backing them up with estimated savings figures.
As you know, there is more to think about than just fuel efficiency when evaluating your driving habits. Eco-friendly promoters often tout carpooling as the best way to lessen your carbon footprint, but you may be left wondering how you’ll find people to share a ride.
An app named Carpooling solves that problem. It asks you for the planned route and time frame for your commute and attempts to match you with other users who will be driving the same direction at the same time.
While these apps employ convenient solutions to complex problems, Drip Detective embraces Da Vinci’s timeless advice that “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” This app aims to get you excited about finding a leaky faucet and fixing it.
All you need to do is tap the screen every time you hear a drip, and the app will tell you how many litres of water the leak will waste in each day, week, month and year, along with how much money it will cost you in the same time period. If those numbers don’t motivate you to fix the leak, nothing will.
In the end, whether you test out a free app, invest in an energy management device or pay into British Gas’s newest product, these apps only work well if you are willing to put in the time.
- License: Royalty Free or iStock source: http://www.sxc.hu/browse.phtml?f=download&id=1237395
Gabriella Johnson is the Marketing Executive at Innasol, champions of greener living and renewable heating options for UK customers.