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Cool-Factor Predicted To Spur Energy Conservation 130

Posted by samzenpus
from the turning-the-lights-off-is-awesome! dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Panelists at a recent technology expo argued about how to motivate people to conserve energy, dragging out all the usual suspects, from financial incentives to emotion appeals to 'save the planet.' However, one panelist trumped the status quo by noting that adding the 'cool factor' could make energy conservation fun via apps on smartphones and tablets. By making energy conservation as fun as a video game, the fickle on-again, off-again of human nature might just be overcome."
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Cool-Factor Predicted To Spur Energy Conservation

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  • by Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) on Wednesday June 29, 2011 @06:04PM (#36617100)
    Will I be able to use a Doom interface to shutoff the lights in my house?
  • Are they implying that Apple will be designing the new energy conservation technology?
  • ...are much more energy efficient then normal phones!
    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      Considering that mine regularly prevents me from turning on a desktop or laptop I would agree with you.

  • I doubt population control was even mentioned. Soon the crap from humans will be causing too much methane, no matter how much we converse it will be futile.
    • I wrote to my MP about this a while back. They acknowledge the fact that population is a problem but as far as I can tell none of them has the balls to do anything about it.
      • Economic power allows women to choose the size of their family, and experience shows that population growth levels out when a country achieves a certain level of prosperity. Condoms, birth control pills (synthetic hormones - bad for long-term health of the woman, but good for temporarily preventing conception or implantation), vasectomies (or wearing a testical-heater/nut-cup), etc - lots of ways to prevent babies. Even "Natural Family Planning" works pretty well, because there's only a few days a month tha

        • by AmiMoJo (196126)

          There is another way to reduce family size: religion. If the Catholic Church and a large enough number of Imams decided to lighten up on contraception and recommend keeping family sizes down then potentially billions of people would listen.

          Otherwise, as you say, we will just have to wait for these societies to mature and proper enough to reject religious views on offspring.

      • by RussR42 (779993)
        Obama's science adviser is all over it. Behold! [amazon.com] _Ecoscience_ Coauthored by John P. Holdren.
    • Methane is an energy source, and methane from shit can be used to replace fossil fuels.

      http://www.google.com/search?q=methane+digester [google.com]

      Methane biogas is the future, baby! Renewable, far more cost-effective than nukes and obviously more environmentally friendly than fossil fuels.

      Sadly, your major point is still right... it's unlikely we can continue to increase our population forever without triggering some kind of extinction event.

      • The problem is that the majority of the methane (which has approximately 20x impact on the greenhouse effect vs CO2) is actually emitted right out the butts of livestock bred for our food & clothing. Either you're going to have to put a pipe up each animal to capture that, or we're about to have the world's biggest BBQ...

        • Good point! One more reason to believe that biotech is the future, not clunky 1940s nuclear or 1800s petroleum tech. The only way to get better cows is to breed better cows, they won't spontaneously generate themselves out of a particle accelerator or a steam engine.

      • by Sulphur (1548251)

        Methane is an energy source, and methane from shit can be used to replace fossil fuels.

        http://www.google.com/search?q=methane+digester [google.com]

        Methane biogas is the future, baby! Renewable, far more cost-effective than nukes and obviously more environmentally friendly than fossil fuels.

        Sadly, your major point is still right... it's unlikely we can continue to increase our population forever without triggering some kind of extinction event.

        it's unlikely we can continue to increase our population forever without triggering some kind of population crash event.

        FTFY

    • by mug funky (910186)

      the problem with voluntary population control is it selects for selfish bastards.

      all the earth-minded people will willingly reduce their numbers, everyone else will continue to breed like rabbits.

  • There's no need for clever new strategies to promote adoption. If you want to sell something just give it sex appeal. Sex sells. Always has, always will.
    • Just gotta somehow link that energy saving light bulbs stimulate your libido.

      • by mug funky (910186)

        could be counter-productive. most energy saving bulbs are not dimmable, and we all know dimmed lights are sexier.

        • by hitmark (640295)

          Well, there are LEDs for that...

          Hell, with the right LED setup, one can even do color changes to fit the mood.

      • by SEWilco (27983)

        Just gotta somehow link that energy saving light bulbs stimulate your libido.

        That will only succeed in selling light fixtures with for 100 energy saving bulbs.

      • by superwiz (655733)
        Why not go for full necrophilia? Why just light bulbs? Snuffing life out of life is smexy. Let's get people excited about public hangings since it's people that cause all these emissions, right? At which point do we get to call ecofascism by its proper name?
        • At which point do we get to call ecofascism by its proper name?

          When it starts being anti-human, instead of pro-environment, which is also pro-human.

          Slippery-slope fallacy is fallacious.

          • by superwiz (655733)

            instead of pro-environment, which is also pro-human.

            I disagree.

            Slippery-slope fallacy is fallacious.

            If I believe the has already been crossed, it's not a slipper slope argument then. Now we are just arguing semantics. You want to call ecofascism "fluffy bunnies." I want to call it ecofascism.

            • If I believe the has already been crossed, it's not a slipper slope argument then.

              Logical fallacies have nothing to do with what you believe, and everything to do with what you say. Here is what you said:

              Why not go for full necrophilia?... Let's get people excited about public hangings since it's people that cause all these emissions, right?

              That is exactly a slippery-slope fallacy, unless you are claiming that these things have actually happened. If they haven't, then this isn't a line which has been crossed. Suggesting that crossing some other line (one you nevermentioned) will lead to this is pretty much a textbook slippery slope.

              Now we are just arguing semantics. You want to call ecofascism "fluffy bunnies."

              As far as I can tell, I'm actually putting forth arguments, and you're putting forth fallacie

      • Considering...

        Total darkness is still best in many cases.

        Beauty is just a light switch away. In total darkness I look like Brad Pitt.

    • by SEWilco (27983)

      There's no need for clever new strategies to promote adoption. If you want to sell something just give it sex appeal. Sex sells. Always has, always will.

      But I think these people want to counter HotOrNot [hotornot.com].

  • Nah, that'll never work.

    • by kwr760 (2100464)
      Remember when the government asks you if it is ok to add a tax or raise taxes. Your answer should be no, please cut spending. If you want to save the planet please do not have children or just one.
  • Maybe times have changed since I was a kid, but saving money to spend it on something I actually wanted, rather than putting gas in the car or paying for a power bill.
    • by c6gunner (950153)

      I can't think of any time when saving money was considered 'cool'. Smart, sure, but then again 'smart' was rarely 'cool', either. Most societies idolize overblown displays of wealth and physical ability, not thrift and intelligence.

      • by Grishnakh (216268)

        Most societies idolize overblown displays of wealth and physical ability, not thrift and intelligence.

        They do? Yes, American society is totally just like this, but "most societies"? I'm pretty sure Asian societies have not historically had these traits.

        • by c6gunner (950153)

          Right. And Native Americans are noble peace-loving people who lived happy, healthy lives, in harmony with the environment.

          People are people. It doesn't really matter what culture they're from - our basic urges, desires, and shortcomings are the same. Don't believe the hype.

          • by Grishnakh (216268)

            Oh please. You're trying to tell me that China and Japan worship sports the way Americans do? That's complete bullshit. They have their sports, of course, but not the way we do with "sports bars" full of big-screen TVs blaring dozens of ESPN channels simultaneously, and the addiction that many American men have to them. They also DO value intelligence in a way totally the opposite of us. While we make fun of engineers, people in India and China consider it a highly respected profession, the way we do w

            • Wait. We consider shystering a highly respected profession? Sense when? I didn't get the memo.

              As to sports and Asia. BS. Asians will bet on anything.

            • While we make fun of engineers, people in India and China consider it a highly respected profession, the way we do with lawyers.

              "Highly respected profession" and "lawyers" doesn't fit together very well, I think. Or did I just miss some irony?

              • by Grishnakh (216268)

                Depends on who you talk to. Among engineers and other technical people, no, lawyers aren't really well respected. Among poor people and less educated people, they think of lawyers almost like gods. Other more-educated people in useless jobs tend to think well of them too. Finally, just look at the voting public. Year after year, who do they elect to the highest positions in government? Lawyers. Look at who all the "intelligent" liberals voted for in '08 for President: a lawyer.

      • I can't think of any time when saving money was considered 'cool'. Smart, sure, but then again 'smart' was rarely 'cool', either. Most societies idolize overblown displays of wealth and physical ability, not thrift and intelligence.

        Well, maybe then we must make it that having energy conserving technology shows wealth. Make energy saving products expensive and look expensive. Then, gradually introduce less expensive models (but not too fast). Slowly the "if you have it, you must be rich" will turn into "if you don't have it, you must be poor". Which still is a great incentive to get it. And by the time that everyone (actually, everyone who could afford the non-energy saving equivalent) can afford it, it will be the normal thing, and no

  • Mandatory SMBC... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TarMil (1623915) on Wednesday June 29, 2011 @06:23PM (#36617238)
    ... is not even a week old. http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db=comics&id=2286#comic [smbc-comics.com]
    • by kwr760 (2100464)
      I believe that is it evil to have the attitude of 'Do what I say or I will hurt you.'. This is the immorality of governing organizations. It is ok to jail/hurt someone who hurts people, but is it right to hurt someone who doesn't want to help someone? To me the answer is obvious, but to most people in the US the answer seems to be the opposite of my opinion.
      • Governments using carrots and sticks to corral and constrain and align behaviour. It's not the immorality of governing organizations. It's the TRADE-OFF of governing organizations.

        Try inner city Rio de Janeiro or a failed state (several to choose from in Africa) with no effective government, and
        see what happens to the average chance of getting hurt on any given day.

      • by c6gunner (950153)

        It is ok to jail/hurt someone who hurts people, but is it right to hurt someone who doesn't want to help someone? To me the answer is obvious, but to most people in the US the answer seems to be the opposite of my opinion.

        Depends. I more or less agree with you, but evolutionary pressures have driven us to develop the tendency to punish not only those who directly harm the tribe, but also those who refuse to help the tribe. In small tribes, you could simply banish those who were useless - in modern society, we don't really have that option. Public shaming would have been one way to deal with such issues ... however, in the Internet Era, public shaming can be more harmful than imprisonment. I'm not sure how to deal with it

        • by superwiz (655733)
          Yes, but technological advancements have allowed us to depend on the tribe less. And enabled us to be more productive through use of higher brain functions than through mechanical repetitive labor. The only thing which stands in our way is jealousy of those less able.
  • by Daetrin (576516) on Wednesday June 29, 2011 @06:24PM (#36617242)
    I don't think the effect is huge, but since i switched from a Rav4 to a Prius i've noticed that my driving habits have gotten a little more conservative, and i think the main factor is the little current and cumulative "miles per gallon" readings on the display. Trying to keep it above 45 mpg can be kinda fun, and it really doesn't seem to affect how quickly i get anywhere very much.

    I used to gun the motor a lot more in the Rav4 just cause it was fun and there wasn't much reason not to (the difference in mileage and thus the difference in how often i had to fill up seemed pretty marginal) but now that i've got direct and immediate feedback playing with the mpg gauges is also fun, even if in an entirely different way, and now it's the marginal difference in time that i'm dismissing rather than the marginal difference in mileage. (And i still drive faster than i probably ought to, and i still will gun my car from time to time just for the fun of it, just nowhere near as often.)
    • by mattack2 (1165421)

      Not just the miles per gallon readings, but I've seen multiple car reviews talk about essentially a 'green meter', which purposefully (IMHO) tries to get people's mind into video game mode..

      The one I saw recently on a CNET car review did I think a green leafy image, and the circle of leaves grew as you were driving less lead-footed (and I think they went from blue to green).

    • by CosmeticLobotamy (155360) on Wednesday June 29, 2011 @09:10PM (#36618384)

      Nissan Altimas have the MPG meter, and I notice I do try to keep it as high as I can when I have it on (though I rarely do. There's more important info screens on there, and for some reason they decided to make the fonts on each one huge so you can't put them all on at once).

      But I just wish we could get an accurate gas gauge. If people (me, at least) could tell that this trip used 2.168 gallons, they'd know it also cost $8 and they might think about doing things differently. For now, all you know is that your last ten trips used something like 3/8ths of a tank. And a tank in this car is, uh... 18.3 gallons? Maybe? Times 3/8ths is, uh... Fuck it. If I need gas I'll get gas.

      A real-time meter that says your flooring it and slamming on the brakes every 10 seconds just cost you 0.2 gallons over 30 seconds (or whatever) might make people a little more conservative.

      • If your car can only burn .2 gallons in 15 seconds floored (assuming half brakes, half gas) then your car is lame.

        You need a bigger engine, cams and more boost to be cool. Not liking this fact doesn't change it.

      • When it comes to cars I couldn't agree more. Vehicles constitute a status symbol where spending too much money makes people feel better. Screw the cool factor - that's what makes people buy inefficient vehicles and drive in a wasteful fashion.

        I used to be scared driving next to sports car-driving idiots who insist on getting to 80mph in moderate traffic while leaving only half a car length of room in front of them. Since I upgraded a car which shows my MPG, I watch their brake lights flicker constantly a

      • by ElmoGonzo (627753)
        You do have an accurate gas gauge. It's the one on the gas pump when you fill up. Keeping track of miles since last fill up gives you a very good estimate of MPG. Days since last fill up adds in MPDay. Paying attention to -- and trying to maximize -- the MPG on the dashboard (which is always optimistic) improved my calculated MPG from 33 to 35 and cut my MPD from 1.1 to 0.95. The car I drive less often has an "instantaneous" MPG setting which is also fun to play with -- going down hills it maxes out at
    • by Rogerborg (306625)
      +1000 insightful. All of us (men, there are no women on the Intartubes) game while we're driving. Speed and time if we don't have a choice. A mpg readout is the best way to give a better target, and any government serious about the environment would mandate the permanent display of one in all new vehicles. SUV owners can put tape over theirs.
  • rippity rap (Score:5, Funny)

    by buback (144189) on Wednesday June 29, 2011 @06:26PM (#36617258)

    Maybe we could do one of those rapping songs the kids are so keen on these days?

  • "By making energy conservation as fun as a video game, the fickle on-again, off-again of human nature might just be overcome."

    Because people never change their idea of what is cool....
  • by Ichijo (607641) on Wednesday June 29, 2011 @07:24PM (#36617672) Homepage Journal

    When I commute, I want to be able to glance at a gasoline usage meter and see how much I've used up to that point and how it compares to the same point on previous commutes. Then I can compete against myself, similar to the "ghost" in Mario Kart.

  • After living most of my life in a community where things like recycling were common practice my the vast majority of it's citizens, I moved to a large city in "the southwest". The trendy society page people have just, in the last two years, started to talk about "going green", recycling, etc. as if they were "the latest thing". Yeah, it's lame, but if that's what it takes to get people on board, fine. Everything that helps to disarm the conservative, "fuck your grandchildren and their environment" types, wh
    • by operagost (62405)

      Everything that helps to disarm the conservative, "fuck your grandchildren and their environment" types, when they try to paint environmentalism as some commie-liberal evil plot, is a welcome addition to the dialogue.

      Nice straw man. Do you really believe that? Conservation (hey, that looks like "conservative") is positive when it's performed voluntarily, or agreed on by a community-- not when it's imposed on people at their own cost of property and freedom. That's what conservatives think.

      • by kf6auf (719514)
        Or maybe people (our grandkids) should have the liberty/freedom to decide if they want to live in a polluted/warmed environment instead of other people (us) making a nonreversible decision for them. We could force conservation and sustainability on 6 billion people now, or can force it on ~10 billion of our descendants (and maybe more) later by virtue of leaving no other options; which leaves the most people with the most freedom?
  • Is that they are focused on the irrelevant. The biggest CO2 contribution of *anyone* is coming from car travel, just about the sum of all other CO2 expenditures on average - but since electric cars are
    a) overly expensive due to the cost of batteries
    b) total crap if you need to get anywhere over a certain distance due to the inability to "charge a tank" quickly, the idea is to improve public transports and have people use cars for long-distance travels for which other options suck.
    Second important on
    • by Grishnakh (216268)

      Second important one is excessive house heating. That one has an appeal too - don't heat as much , and/or insulate your house, and you'll save money, and quite a lot

      Not enough. To make it economically worthwhile, it needs to have a payback time of 3 years or so.

      Most people don't stay in their house much more than 5 years. Worse, these days with the mortgage meltdown, a lot of people don't even own their house, they're renters, and probably won't be buying another house for 7 years or more.

      Making improveme

      • a few degrees, unless the landlord pays for your electricity , which is bloody unlikely, pays off now, even if you don't own the house. It is a matter of choosing applicable strategy based on where you live
        And nobody was talking about solar panels or other overly expensive methods anyway - polystyrene plates for wall insulation are reasonably cheap, and they do deliver.
    • by prefec2 (875483)

      In urban areas public transport is very effective, fast and low on energy consumption. however, it has to be subsidized, because car travel is subsidized a lot. Plus, people do not count all cost for the car when they compare it with public transport, but only the gas.

      For midrange distances you can use trains (at least in Europe) they are save, fast and you can relax or work while you ride.

      The only area where public transport does not work very well is the country side. There cars can be more usable.

      However

  • I thought Idiocracy is just a movie, but when we really have to sell a sustainable way of life with coolness, I start to doubt that. On the other hand, this would make Europeans pretty cool compared to people from the US. ;-)

  • It's been demonstrated tons of times that when you make something fun, people go for it.

    Just look at Volkswagen's The Fun Theory [thefuntheory.com] project for proof.

  • I'm an all out eco head, but expecting a silver bullet to solve our energy problems is bound to fail. Those early using the "energy dashboards" are self-selected to have an interest in energy savings and/or new gadgets. This will not translate to the general public. The EnergyStar programmable thermostats were predicted to save between 15-30% for a typical home. When used as prescribed they did deliver those savings. The mechanical engineers, EnergyStar and widget makers declared victory and pushed the

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