About this project
Years of research and hundreds of studies have been done on how people use energy. One thing everyone agrees on? Simple, real-time feedback helps reduce energy waste and can save 10% - 20% or more on energy bills.
So, we set out to design a beautiful and effective home energy tracker to do just that. Meet Glow, the smart energy tracker that lets you see your energy use.
Our first challenge was getting the real-time data you need to see. Up until now, you had to do this:
Want to put your hands in there?
Didn’t think so. And a good call too, that’s the most electrically dangerous spot in your home.
So we created Glow’s sensor. It installs like this:
Glow's in-home unit can be placed anywhere in your home. We like to put ours in the living room or kitchen.
Our lives are busy, kilowatt-hours are confusing, and graphs take time to read. So we use the fastest, most intuitive communication medium: color. Color is well studied; it’s lightning quick to understand and is more effective than graphs or numbers throughout day-to-day life. It's also understandable at all ages making Glow a place the whole family can learn about energy use.
We’ve found through testing that users respond best to a range of colors that go from cool (blue and green) to hot (amber, orange, and red). A glance on your way out the door lets you make sure you’re not wasting energy while you’re away. And when you want numbers and graphs, Glow’s app is just a few taps away.
Did you forget to turn off the oven, is a space heater running in an empty room, or the curling iron still on? There are devices in our homes that shouldn't be left running unattended. No need to worry though--now you can find out right from your phone. The Glow app lets you check your home’s energy usage when you're on-the-go. Even better, notifications alert you of abnormal usage patterns so you can take action right away. No more nasty surprises at home or on your electricity bill!
"Glow keeps me informed about what’s going on with my electricity usage at every moment, and guests think it’s a decoration, so it serves as a good conversation piece, as well!" - Jordan F.
In most homes, a whopping 40% of electricity consumed goes to waste. That can add up to big bucks on your electric bill—over $500 wasted per year for the average home! Glow helps you see energy use as it happens so you can cut the waste and save money. This means Glow will pay for itself in a year or less in most homes. You can even tell Glow how much you want to spend each month, and Glow will help you stay on track.
Research shows that when you get real-time feedback on your energy use--like Glow's color indicator--it leads to up to 20% reduction in overall energy usage.
"Glow took the guesswork out of figuring out our electric bill. When an appliance is running, I get automatic feedback." -- Natalie W.
Here are just a few examples of waste that Glow can help you track down:
- Inefficient/second refrigerator: $300/year
- Continuously running dehumidifier: $250/year
- Water heater oversetting: $60/year
- Poorly sized HVAC system: $200-600/year
- Unreplaced incandescent bulb: $5-$15/year
Generation of electricity is the largest source of green house gas emissions in the US, responsible for 29% of American emissions. According to the EPA, an average home's wasted electricity is equivalent to 3.4 tons of carbon emissions annually. Obtaining the fuel needed for electricity generation has an environmental cost as well. When you reduce your energy usage, in addition to reducing your utility bills, it helps to minimize your impact on the environment.
We've designed Glow to be a device you love to use. Here are some of the features we added to help it not only help you save energy, but also fit nicely into your home:
- Safe installation: Glow’s patent-pending sensor attaches to your utility meter box in seconds (check your home's compatibility here)
- Wireless sensing: Magneto-resistive technology wirelessly measures your power usage
- Quick setup: Setting up your in-home unit is as simple as plugging it in and letting Glow calibrate (The whole process takes about 10 minutes)
- Smart Energy Indicator: Glow’s soft LED light changes color based on your energy use and dims automatically at night
- Snooze button: Tap Glow’s button to snooze the light for 2 hours or hold to pause feedback completely
- Ultra-low power usage: The entire Glow system uses less energy than a single LED bulb
- Cross-platform App: Mobile applications for both iOS and Android phones
- Remote Energy Monitoring: Monitor your home’s electricity usage from anywhere
- Energy Usage Alerts: Get notifications about abnormal energy usage keeping you safe and helping you reduce your usage when it's highest
- Cost Forecasting: Glow estimates the energy cost for your next bill based on recent usage
- Spending Goals: Tell Glow how much you want to spend, and Glow helps you stay on track
- *UPDATED* Smart Home Integrations: Integrate Glow with Amazon Echo, Philips Hue, your car charger, and other smart home technology to unlock great new features. We're working on solar panel system integration as well (see FAQ for compatible devices and systems).
- *NEW* Cloud API: Want to integrate a new device with Glow? Grab your energy data from a Raspberry Pi? Glow will have a cloud-based JSON API that is open to developers, hackers and DIYers. Don't worry, we take security seriously, all access will need user authorization and have to run over HTTPS or secure web sockets.
“I find Glow’s app to be very informative. I check my home’s energy usage multiple times a day, to make sure that everything is in order. I was able to achieve levels of less than 250 Watts total usage when no one was home.” – Michele M., Ph.D.
The Short Story: Glow tracks your home’s energy usage using two devices: a wireless sensor that attaches to the outside of your utility meter box, and the in-home unit which plugs into your wall. The sensor measures electricity as it flows into your home, and the in-home unit sends that information to the Glow app on your phone. When you get real-time feedback, research shows that you'll begin to optimize your usage. But we take it a step further and add notifications, summaries, and budgeting goals to give you additional tools to maximize your savings and safety.
The Longer Story:
Traditional energy monitors required dangerous wiring or professional installation. As a result, every homeowner we knew was left in the dark about their daily energy use.
Our team of designers, engineers, and developers set out to measure electricity usage without having to open any dangerous electrical boxes. To do that, we invented a self-contained sensor that attaches to the outside of your electricity meter box and “senses” the amount of electricity flowing into your home. This type of magneto-resistive sensing was first popularized for consumer use in smartphones, where it is used to detect the magnetic field of the earth for the compass app.
Glow’s sensor sends energy data wirelessly to the Glow unit in your home. From there, it is processed and sent to Glow’s backend cloud service for deeper analysis.
Glow works with modern digital or “smart” meters installed on U.S. homes. To see if Glow is compatible with your home:
If your meter isn't supported, know that we're working hard on supporting more meter configurations. Sign up for announcements about support for additional meters here.
Important note for international residents: Due to differences in electrical systems between countries, the first version of Glow will only support U.S. and Canadian homes. We hope to add support for more countries in the future! Sign up for announcements on international availability here.
Glow was created by a team of designers, engineers, and developers based in Athens, Ohio who have been involved in launching over 30 products. Our mission is to help consumers understand their energy usage, save money, and reduce their environmental impact—right inside their homes.
Glow’s founders, Ben and Robin, met way back in 2013. Robin had just finished an energy monitoring project and Ben was exploring software solutions for energy tracking—it was an instant match. They bonded over a shared vision of developing an "energy monitor for the masses," one that could be safely installed by anyone and that people would be excited to have in their homes.
Fast forward to 2017, we've formed a company, designed and built four prototypes, and given Glow to our friends to test in their homes. Now we are excited to share Glow with you!
We're keeping it simple. Just pick the elegantly designed version of Glow that best complements your home, and you're done!
Glow has been tested in real-world homes for over 9 months. Watch a quick demo of one of our current prototypes:
(the web interface shown in the video is a rough, early prototype, but easier to show than switching back and forth on mobile!)
Here are the remaining steps to get Glow to your doorstep:
- Glow website: http://meetglow.com
- Follow @meetglow on Twitter
- Like us on Facebook
- Potential Labs on LinkedIn
Risks and challenges
We've done a huge amount of work to reduce the risk of getting Glow to your door. Most importantly, we've been testing our third generation of prototypes for over 9 months in real-world homes. These units are part of a long line of prototypes for both the design and the hardware. We've also built Glow for manufacturability from day 1--we've been building custom PCBs, done detailed costing, and found second sources for component suppliers all along the way. This means we don't have to convert from a hobby-solution prototype (like a Raspberry Pi) to custom hardware, we've already built it. We're also building strong partnerships with multiple manufacturing resources in the region. It's important to note that they're a car ride away in most cases, instead of an intercontinental flight to the other side of the world. These partnerships give us confidence that our goals of manufacturing in the US, and regionally when possible, are on track to turn out a great product.
- As with any wireless device, Glow must be certified to meet the specifications of the FCC. Although we design and test to these specifications, when Glow is sent off to a certifying lab, issues could be uncovered that may lead to design changes that lead to longer than anticipated time to fulfillment.
- The upgraded wood base poses a unique engineering challenge due to its inherent qualities as a natural material. Wood undergoes seasonal expansion and contraction, requires an increased minimum thickness, and has reduced cross grain impact strength. All of these factors must be mitigated with additional industrial design and engineering. However, we deeply love wood--both how it feels and how it augments home decor. We are working hard to deliver it as a unique and beautiful addition to the base product. If for any reason the wood base is significantly delayed or undeliverable due to these risks, we will offer a standard unit instead, at a reduced cost.
- Any integration with 3rd party devices is in some part dependent on that third party. We can not control access to APIs or other integration points, and any features involving outside entities may be delayed or become impossible based on those third party entities' decisions. If this happens, we'll attempt to communicate with affected customers as quickly as possible.
- While we are ready to launch Glow into the world, we have not, by any means, solved every challenge ahead of us. In launching this Kickstarter campaign we are setting our sights on delivering a great first product to a group of amazing early adopters and supporters. However, to get Glow to your doorstep we have hardware and software engineering ahead of us, additional industrial design, formalizing relationships with identified manufacturing partners, and, finally, the task of manufacturing, testing and fulfilling all of your rewards. Our intention is to communicate throughout this journey on a roughly monthly basis and be as frank and open as possible with you as we tackle each challenge ahead of us.
Thank you so much for your support. It means the world to us.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Support this project
- (36 days)