When to replace lights?

Lighting accounts for 7 per cent of a typical household’s energy bill.

Cutting your lighting bill is one of the easiest ways to save energy and money. Houses typically use a mixture of standard light fittings and downlighters or spotlight fittings. Energy efficient bulbs are available for both types of fittings.

Changing which bulbs you use and how you use them will instantly save your home energy and money.

Not sure if I should replace those lights? Can Smappee help?

First identify the Appliance, the lights (see other articles to find your appliance).  Once the appliance is identified and you allowed Smappee to collect some usage data for a few weeks, you’ll have reliable data and statistics on that lights energy consumption.

In my case, I looked at TL lights in our dressing room. 

The DNA of this Light appliance shows me this:

This light is ON for a total of 10 days per year (2,7% of the time).  Turns on with a timer when presence is detected in the dressing room!  On average 6 minutes 46 seconds. 

That’s good, we don’t let the lights ON when no one is present.  The power is 101W and is correct ( 2 fluorescent tubes of 51W each).  This light will consume 24 kWh per year at a cost of 6,10 EUR per year. 

 Can I replace the light with more efficient lights with this budget of 6,10 EUR?!

No, and I should not as the light is only used 2,7% of the time, thanks to the presence sensor and the timer.  This light is also very efficient and I found out the TL tubes have an A label according to EEL (European Efficiency Label) standard. 


Changing how we use our lights by implementing control mechanisms and being conscious of our behavioural habits can save money and energy.

Here are a few easy things to help you start saving:

  • Always turn lights out when leaving a room regardless of how short a period it is for
  • Be conscious of how many lights you have on and whether they all need to be in use
  • Arrange light switches so that its convenient to turn them off i.e. place switches at top and bottom of stairs, each end of a hallway and each door to a room
  • Use a sensor and timer on external lights so they are only in use when they need to be
  • Use appropriate lightings i.e. a low back ground light while watching television and a right, concentrated light for reading. By having a range of lights in a room with separate switches will make this easier.



Smappee.. a good investment!

Smappee..  it’s a good Investment!

Buying a Smappee device at 199, EUR including VAT is financially a good investment.  In a previous post, I indicated that the way Smappee provides you insight in your energy usage: real-time feedback with consumption down to the appliance level, will help you save 12% on your energy consumption.

How much savings do I need to pay back my Smappee in 2 years?

Assuming an average energy price of 0,25 EUR per kWh (Day or Night rates, taxes and contributions all together), then a pay back in 2 years will require you to save 100, EUR per year thus reduce your consumption by 400 kWh per year (400 kWh x 0,25 EUR/kWh = 100 EUR).

If this reduction is the result of the 12% savings that can be achieved, how much do we need to consume annually then?  Well 400 kWh * 100 /12 = 3333 kWh per year.  The average Belgian household consumes even more, 3.500 kWh per year. So this should be possible.

Most of us have a higher consumption than the average of 3500 kWh/year!

Most 4-people-households will even consume 5.000 kWh/year and those who really don’t care about their energy footprint, will easily reach 8.000 kWh/year.  And those having a swimming pool, Sauna, Jacuzzi, heat pump will be well above 12.000 kWh/year and generally end up at 20.000 kWh!.  Needless to say how quickly you will pay back your Smappee in such case.

How much return do I get on my Savings account?

Payback in 2 years equals an intrest rate of 50%.  Not just the first two years, but as long as you continue to use Smappee and manage your energy usage footprint. You’ll earn money with it.  Even if you would only be able to save half, still 25% would be achieved.  How much does your Savings account return?

No loss of Comfort!

We understand, that people in general don’t want to lose comfort! I why would we?  So, don’t stop using your sauna, your pool, etc. because you have a Smappee.  Just be aware how much energy they use.  Don’t pre-heat your Sauna hours in advance, that’s it. There is a lot of other useless and wasted energy that you can save on; Standby Power for instance!

400 kWh per year (= pay back 2 years).  Help me me find them?

There are plenty of ways to save energy: replace old, inefficient fridges, shutdown the fridge in the garage that just hold two beers,..

Another easy source of energy savings can be found by looking at the standby consumption of your appliances.  Your TV, Computer, PS console, .. for example. You think they are OFF, but they still consume energy!  Normal, the device must be running in standby mode (lower consumption) to receive that InfraRed command from your remote control in order to turn on the rest of the TV.   Same for the Computer .. a tap on the keyboard wakes it up.   In my case my TV, and Computer each had approximately 30W of standby power!

If you find 50W of standby power that is ON during 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, you’ll have an energy savings potential of:  50W x 24h x 365 days = 438.000 Wh or 438 kWh!  (remember at 0,25 EUR per kWh: 438 kWh x 0,25 = 109,5 EUR per year for 50W always on power!


The Bubble screen in the Smappee App shows your actual Consumption (Dark Bubble), your solar or wind production (Green Bubble) and the total Standby Power of all your Appliances in the home (Blue Bubble: 340 W in this screenshot).  The standby power of your home is measured by Smappee and updated every day.  Smappee wants to be sure you effectively reduced the Standby Consumption and will wait 2 days prior to reduce the Blue Bubble value with the amount of Standby Power you have reduced in your home.IMG_0035Smappee will give you an award each time your reduce your Standby Power by 3% and 10%.

How can I find out how much Standby Power this appliance is using?

It’s simple to measure..

Make sure you don’t have to much activity in the house (cleaning, ironing, etc.) and try to have a steady total consumption in the “Dark Bubble”.  The example hereafter shows a value of 1141W as the total power of all your appliances in the house.  This is a real-time power value, updated every 5 seconds.


Look at the increase (+59W) and decrease (-59W) of the total power in the house as a result of switching an appliance ON and OFF.

In order to measure the standby consumption, it’s not sufficient to press the OFF button of your TV.  As explained previously, it is still taking some power.  So take the power cord out of the outlet as this will really shutdown the TV and plug it back in after eg. 30 seconds.  Repeat a number of times and watch the power increases and decreases above the dark bubble (or subtract the two total power values from each other 1200W – 1141W = 59W).  This will give you the power (or standby power) for this specific appliance, TV,  Computer, PS Console, ..

Standby Power, the “RED switch Power Strip” or Smappee’s Comfort Plug?

OK, we understand that we should unplug the power of certain appliances. We can use the traditional “red switch power strip” or use Smappee’s Comfort Plug.  Read how I reduced the standby power of my multi-room audio amplifier.

I have a multi-room audio system with amplifiers to power 24 by 7 those loudspeakers that are built-in into the ceiling.  The power consumption was 40W! By changing the mode (multizone A or AB, etc) of the Amplifier I could bring down that power to 18W.  That’s a saving of 40 -18 = 22W for ever!  22W * 24 hours * 365 =  192 kWh per year or 48 EUR!


But I could further optimise the consumption of the 18W.  The amplifier is used only a few hours when we’re in the kitchen, listening to the radio, streamed via airplay from our iPad.  This is generally when we have breakfast, as we would rather watch TV in the evening.  Note that the amplifier is not located in the kitchen, so I can’t use the remote control.  We would not want another remote control anyway to turn on that Radio.

imagesI could have used a traditional Red switch Power strip, but that’s not convenient.  I can’t sell that solution to my wife.  (go to the technical room where the amplifier is located ..). Strips with wireless control?  Could work. But more expensive and this means yet another remote control in the kitchen.


So I used Smappee’s Comfort Plug.  The plug is wirelessly controlled by Smappee’s built-in Radio Remote Controller. I let Smappee switch OFF the speakers (the amplifier) when nobody is home.  Smappee can detect this based on the level of consumption in the home and the number of appliances that turn on and off (measure of activity).

Smappee’s Inactivity detector:  If Inactivity detected OR consumption under XX then Turn Off Comfort Plug “Radio”) and turn them immediately back on when we need them.IMG_0036

To turn the speakers on when we are in the Kitchen I used the Schedule function, i.e. at 07h in the morning, but it happens that we sleep longer, and inactivity will have turned the speakers OFF again at 08h.

IMG_0037I added the “Expresso” event.  First thing we do at breakfast, is make an Expresso.  I used the Smappee event “Expresso machine ON” to automatically turn ON the plug for a duration of ONE hour. (“If this” condition in Smappee: If Expresso ON then Turn On “Radio” for duration of One hour)in the kitchen (breakfast ..) then the Amplifiers is turned on.


The “Event Log” screenshot illustrates that the “Radio” switched ON event following the  “Expresso” out (coffee ready in 30 seconds).

Smappee’s Brand Manifesto!

You like having control over your own life. You don ́t want to sacrifice comfort.  You don ́t like wasting your own money – or valuable resources. So it ́s time to deal more consciously with our planet’s natural reserves. It ́s time for a change in behaviour. Naturally without sacrificing comfort. Everyone can do their part by reducing energy consumption. And with smappee, you’ve got everything totally under control. So you don ́t have to dramatically overturn your lifestyle.  Ultimately, it entails just a small gesture. With a big win for yourself, but above all for the environment. Saving on Energy is not only good for your wallet, but also helps our Climate!


Smappee can help you reduce your energy consumption by 12%! How?

A qualitative assessment of 23 studies showed savings up to 12%

when users get Real-Time feedback on their energy usage, detailed down to the appliance level!  That’s why the Smappee concept provides real-time info in the main “Bubble” screen and shows the Power and Consumption of the discovered Appliances (DNA of an Appliance).  See the Bar Graph below and the purple color.

Screen Shot 2016-07-14 at 09.30.48

Why Feedback is Likely to Result in Persistent Savings

Feedback helps consumers to learn the energy consequences of specific behaviours, and that information reduces uncertainty about the effectiveness of new behaviours.

Feedback helps people to establish new habits and they no longer need to be energy conscious all the time. New behaviours become automatic.

Feedback elicits energy conserving behaviours and after a while people adapt their attitudes to their new behaviours and energy conservation becomes a new part of their identity.

A qualitative assessment of all 23 studies, indicated that three-quarters had persistent savings. ƒ An assessment of the 9 longest studies indicated that savings are persistent when feedback is persistent or when feedback is provided in a supportive social environment.

The pitfall:  the novelty of energy feedback may wear off and people will fall back into old habits and practices.  

Persistent Savings with Smappee?

To avoid the pitfall of falling back in old habits;  Smappee combines the “Energy insights and feedback” with other features and benefits.  As such people continue to use their Energy Buddy because they need it in daily life.

The Energy Buddy and its Comfort Plug® provide simple home automation functions that will be used on a daily basis.  Also the “peace of mind” features providing info anytime,  from anywhere (from your smartphone App) to verify if one forgot to turn off the Iron or to check if the kids came home well after school (garage door used, playstation console in use,etc. ), or get a notification when the freezer door is left open, etc.   Those “convenience” features help to make sure users keep using their Energy Buddy.

While using Smappee for convenience and peace of mind checks,  the Buddy, inevitably shows you your Energy Usage, as you have to navigate via the main “bubble” screen, providing that feedback, achieving a long term sustained and persisted saving.


Sources: Karen Ehrhardt-Martinez, Ph.D.  The complete research report is entitled: Advanced Metering Initiatives and Residential Feedback Programs and is available from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy: http://www.ACEEE.org/pubs/e105.htm

Smappee, why we designed it the way it is?

Smappee finds your appliances;  how does it work?

Smappee will find your appliances automatically after a few days of learning.  But it does not provide you the name and the type of the appliance.  There are hundreds of thousands of different appliances and manufacturers.  We do not have this database with all the signatures of those appliances (fridges, TV sets, ..) in order to let Smappee label the appliance automatically.

However what Smappee can do, is detect the different appliances that you have in your home, as they all have a different way to use the electric current.

A fridge for instance, has an electric motor to drive the compressor.  When the motor starts, from a standstill position, it will drain more power (thus current) during a fraction of a second, until the cooling fluid is circulating.  So let’s assume that your fridge, when starting to cool, uses 45 Watts of Power.  After a typical period of 5, 10, .. minutes, your fridge will have reached the 4°C setpoint and the motor will stop cooling.  The total power measured in your home ( being the total of all your appliances at that specific point in time), will then suddenly be reduced as your fridge just stopped cooling.  You would expect a reduction of 45 W (same as the initial power when starting), but in practice you will notice a reduction of a lower power, e.g. 40 W (as once the motor is running, it drains less power).  Smappee will match those power changes with statistical methods (eg. I see a +45W, then a -40W, again +45W then a -40W, etc.)  Of course it is more difficult than this, as ten’s of other equipments turn on and off in the meantime.  Or certain device of eg. 2000 W vary easily with 40W when draining their power.  So the difficulty is to match the power changes to the right appliance.  Many other difficulties include things like dimmers ( power goes from eg. 10W to 250W for the dimmed light), LED TV’s (depending on the movie you watch, power of the LED varies a lot!), ..


Still we have reached good performance and can detect and categorise “Loads” or “Appliances” that turn on and off.

I like to compare Smappee with Shazam, the App you would use to recognise a song you hear.  We all accept that in case their would be a lot of background noise or another audio source like speaking people or the radio, that the App would tell us, it did not recognise the melody.  Well in the case of Smappee, we constantly have background noise (chargers, standby consumption of devices, pumps, light, etc.) and multiple appliances being used simultaneously, i.e.  “singing their electric melody” all at the same time in the same “pub”. So when the “Bariton” sings (your dry washer of 3500W, ..),  it becomes hard to hear that little voice of your LED light (10W).

In other words, Smappee will listen to all the singing electric devices in your home (by measuring the the total power your home drains, thousands of times per second).  And it will recognise the different “melodies” (appliances), label them “Find me 1” (first appliance or “melody” found), “Find me 2”, etc.

The different melodies or appliances will be shown to the user once Smappee has heard them a number of times, so that it knows, it is not just random noise or a combination of other melodies.  This takes times, read a few “On and Off” events need to be heard or measured reliably before being presented to the user as “Smappee found a new Appliance:  Find me 12!”

As Smappee does not have that “big database” of all types of appliances and their “power usage footprint”, it is not possible to label the appliance it found.  Smappee will thus provide you a list of found “Find me XX” appliances, that you should label, i.e. find out what it is.

Finding the appliance “Find me 12” is an interesting excercise,  at least if you really want to understand your home’s energy footprint, or understand how much power and energy the fridge or the microwave will drain.  Actually it’s also fun to do, just like an energy management game.

How well does it work?

I hope you will understand how difficult it will be for Smappee to identify the different appliances in your home, and that sometimes, when multiple appliances turn on or off at the same time, it could miss that event of: “Fridge turned On”.

The first thousands of Smappee devices installed in the field provided us so much useful feedback, that we were able to fine tune and really enhance that complex quest for appliances.

In my house, Smappee found over 70 appliances, I labeled them almost all and most of them are really detected for 99%.  I can verify the number of Nespresso’s we have consumed and I am ready to bet that Smappee’s count of “Nespresso ON/OFFs this last month” will perfectly match the number of Nespresso capsules I consumed.IMG_0002

The same for my “Garage door Open/Close” , the Light’s in the Garage,  the Spotlight in the garden, etc.

Energy consumption of these appliances?

As Smappee detects the Power (at ON and OFF event) and also registers the ON and OFF timestamps, it can accumulate the ON time (hours) and thus with the Power in Watts provide the Watt x hours consumed per Appliance.  Energy is measured in Wh or kWh (kilo Watt hours).

The DNA of a appliance

In order to provide more information on an Appliance, whether you have found it or not, the DNA will show you averaged data on how you use that specific appliance.  The DNA shows the number of times the Appliances turned ON and OFF, how long the appliance was ON in seconds (averaged over all accumulated ON-OFF cycles measured ever), the average Power (an average of the ON and OFF) used by that appliance in W, the total energy consumed per day in Wh and the associated cost ( Wh x cost per kWh).  You can edit your cost per kWh to match your energy supplier’s bill.

The list of key parameters ( Power, Consumptions, ..) is also provide on a per Week, per Month and per Year basis.  The per Year basis will be an extrapolation based on the “so far available data as collected by Smappee”.  If Smappee is in use for 5 weeks, it will use the “5 weeks” usage to estimate your annual consumption.

In order to further help the user to identify the appliance or understand when that appliance is in use, the DNA wheel shows you when that appliance is used, most of the time.  The darker the green segment, the more On and Off events have been found at that timestamp. A white segment indicates that the appliances has not been in use at that timestamp.

 The “Per Day” tab shows the wheel of the 24 hours usage (averaged over the last x days); the “Per Week” tab shows the usage for each day of the week.  The “Month” tab shows the sliding window of the last 31 days and the “Year” tab indicates the monthly usage allowing to identify seasonality ( appliance uses energy in winter month, but not in summer, etc.)


I make 4 Expresso’s per day.  The Expresso machine uses 1.140 W and requires 36 seconds to make this expresso.  It runs 2 minutes 30 seconds per day and consumes 48 Wh per day, cost at 0,25 EUR per kWh is 0,01 EUR.  Looking at the outer circle on the DNA, I make coffee’s in the morning around 7h30 (darker segment there) and around 13h after lunch.  I also make coffee’s in the morning and afternoon (correct, I work home) but never at night, nor in the evening, except once at 1 am when we had friends coming over to our place.  Desert time!


On a yearly basis, I will drink 1359 coffees, consume 17 kWh to make them and this will cost me 4,34 EUR!.  It seems I drunk less coffees in July (lighter Green in the DNA image here above).  Correct, I was off on holiday. The month of May was incomplete (so lighter green).

Why did we use that principle called “NILM” in Smappee?

Nilm stands for “Non Intrusive Load Monitoring”.

Why did we implement this complex mechanism?  Could we not just simply measure each appliance in our house?

No !  You would never buy and install 70 (typical number of appliances) energy meters in your home.  The cost would be so high !  And it would not be practical either; would you really put a meter in the power socket behind your built-in fridge, and micro-wave.. ? And how would you measure your “Garage door motor” that is directly wired to your fuse panel?  How much time would you invest in installing and reading those meters?

So our conclusion was that if we wanted to provide you, our customer,  a “workable” and “affordable” solution,  then that solution had to:

  • to measure as much as possible appliances with just one sensor!  (versus  50+ unpractical “power plug meters” everywhere..),
  • measure the total of your home (in order to verify your bill),
  • easy to install (one sensor and not +50)
  • affordable (thus one sensor, no additional display required, .. )
  • provide real-time feedback of your total consumption down to the level of your appliances (achieve 12% savings, see further)
  • user friendly software (App based, smart phone, table)
  • Smappee doesn’t come with yet another display, but makes use of your smart phone or tablet (cost reduction)
  • Real-time info, view your home’s appliances from anywhere
  • Be able to measure your solar energy production!
  • measure the Power and Energy as accurate, if not better, than the utility meter (means the Voltage needs to be measured as well, variations of 10% during the day are normal)
  • The solution should be so fun and bring more “added value” than just measuring energy, as that alone, is boring!  (We added remote control from anywhere, detect if appliances are on or off: someone home? A burglar or the kids well home. Forgott to turn off my iron? ..
  • Be future proof ( Smart Grids and demand response, electric vehicles ..), be part of the new IoT (Internet of Things) community of interoperable devices (IFFT, Apple Homekit, etc.)

Energy Savings.. what’s it all about?

Let’s take the example for electricity.  What is a kWh?  Well one kWh is the Energy consumed by an appliance of 1 kW “One kilo Watt” or 1.000 W (one thousand Watt) when is used during 1 hour.  Or an appliance of 500 W used during 2 hours. Yes, it is power multiplied by time you use an appliance.

So, when it comes to save on energy, there are two things to watch: first reduce the power of the appliance, less Watts, results in less Energy (Watt hours) consumed.  How?  Well in the case of light bulbs for example, you could replace an older incandescent light of eg. 100 W by a 10 W LED light that will provide you as much light!  You save a ten fold.  This works for lighting but also for your older house hold appliances as TV’s, Fridges, etc.

Another important parameter is the time an appliance is used.  Like for lights, make use of timers, presence detectors, ambient light sensors to turn lights on only when needed, i.e. someone is in the room and light is needed.  Here you have an impact on the quantity of energy used, the “hours” factor.

In order to manage your energy consumption, you’ll need tools.  The tool must be able to show you the power of each of your appliances and at the same time, register per appliance, how much time you use it per day, week, month and per year.  It will show you the kW x hours or kWh consumed per appliance!

Smappee is one that shows you the consumption per appliance on the Appliance DNA!


The DNA of my Expresso shows I make an average of 6x expresso’s per day, the machine takes 1138 W of power during 28 seconds per shot for a total of 3 minutes and 6 seconds per day.  The making of 6 expresso’s consumes 58 Wh or 0,058 kWh per day.  At a cost of 0,22 EUR per kWh: 0,01 EUR per day. The Year tab shows similar information: I drink 1365 expresso’s per year and this consumes 15 kWh and cost me 3,69 EUR.