Why wait for smart-power services to come to your street/suburb/city? Valta, a Canadian startup now raising funds on Kickstarter, has a do-it-yourself smart-power system for your home that can send a message to your smartphone telling you when you've left the iron on, and offering to switch it off for you.
The number of times I've had to walk back into the house just to check I turned the iron off, a Valta system would pay for itself in peace of mind in no time.
Not to mention the main function of the Valta system, which is to identify un-used devices that are leaching power and switch them off for you, saving you oodles in power bills.
The system is basically a bunch of power sockets that you plug between your devices and the wall, and a central hub that all the sockets communicate with. The hub in turn communicates to your iPhone or a web browser via the internet (you have to plug it into your router), and lets you know what is what when it comes to your power usage.
What a pity the company has no immediate plans to offer one with our unusual power sockets. Still, you could get the UK version, and a whole bunch of socket adapters. Though, you'd need two adapters for every socket - one going into the wall, and one going into the Valta device - and that could get a little unstable. Better to contact Valta, telling them you want the system in Australia. They already added the UK and Germany in response to customer demand, so who knows?
Note the unfortunate lack of an Australian plug on this otherwise stylish socket
Valta has a number of nifty features, not just the one where it works out when gadgets aren't being used and switches them off. It has a feature called "Geofencing", which detects the location of your smartphone from its GPS, and then turns stuff off for you if you're not in your home.
The Valta system also has your standard timers, allowing you schedule when things turn on and off - except you do the scheduling on your phone or in a browser - and devices can be grouped together, making it easier to turn a whole bunch of stuff off or on at once.
The only thing I don't like about Valta, apart from its lack of Australian plugs, is that there is a maximum of 16 sockets per hub. 16 sockets would just get me started in my house. But hopefully you can gang multiple hubs together so they all appear in the one user interface.
And, yes, I know Valta likes to spell its name with a lowercase "v", but we don't go in for such shenanigans around here.
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