Wasting energy? Tweet-a-Watt tattles on Twits

Using a modified version of a $20 off-the-shelf wattage meter, the Tweet-a-Watt kit tracks daily power usage for an outlet, then reports that information to your twittering friends.

Assembling a Tweet-a-Watt kit: the weekend project to assuage carbon gluttons' guilt. Adafruit Industries

Like many of you, I'm addicted to Twitter. It's not just that I like knowing the real-time minutia of my friends' lives (sorry friends, you're all boring), but I like the idea of what Twitter can become. It's evolving in a free-form way, and there's no telling what it will be in the future. But right now people are learning to utilize it in very interesting ways.

The Tweet-a-Watt is one such example. Using a modified version of a $20 off-the-shelf wattage meter, the Tweet-a-Watt kit, now available online for $90, tracks daily power usage for an outlet. It then reports that information back to your followers via your Twitter account, including the daily average and your daily goal.

The kit includes the wireless transmitters and receivers needed to report the data, plus cables and various components needed to get it all wired up. It's the product of an open-source hardware project that had the main goal of wirelessly tracking power usage for a household. The Twitter aspect is a fun byproduct of this idea.

For DIY'ers, there are instructions for making your own kit and links to download the software for your project.

It's great for people who want to keep track of their carbon footprint, and even better for those who like to show off their conservation efforts to their fellow smug friends. You know they're out there.

The meter tracks a specific outlet, though you can buy multiple kits for other outlets and have them all report to the same Twitter feed (that seems excessive). I'd love to see a kit like this for household power, maybe something you plug in at the main terminal for your house. Or maybe I could just bypass Twitter and give my apartment its own blog? I'm sure it's got wonderful things to say about me.

Tweet-a-Watt kit
The Tweet-a-Watt kit includes two XBee modules, two XBee adapter kits, a USB FTDI cable, and other parts. Adafruit Industries

About the author

    With more than 15 years experience testing hardware (and being obsessed with it), Crave freelance writer Matt Hickey can tell the good gadgets from the great. He also has a keen eye for future technology trends. Matt has blogged for publications including TechCrunch, CrunchGear, and most recently, Gizmodo. Matt is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CBS Interactive. E-mail Matt.

     

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