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Simple Ideas that Make Sense: Borrow an Electric Meter from the Library

Published 26th October 2009 - 4 comments - 3266 views -

Photo of EM130 Energy MeterHere in Prince Edward Island, a small province on Canada's east coast, we have an Office of Energy Efficiency, a branch of the provincial government "established to assist Islanders in reducing their energy consumption and minimizing the environmental footprint of our daily activities."

While the Office is involved in all manner of energy-related projects, the one that I find most intriguing is the one that is perhaps the simplest: a program to let Islanders borrow home electricity meters from branches of the public library system. The meters – UPM Technologies EM130 units – are described in their manual as follows:

EM130 is an energy meter that allows you to measure the amount of electricity used by an appliance. It enables you to enter the electricity price per Kilowatt Hour (KWh) to calculate the total cost of an appliance's power consumption, and to monitor the electrcity usage. It also detects energy overloads and records the maximum wattage, while recording the time of the occurrence.

While the notion of lending meters is itself useful and laudable, what's novel about this particular project is the leveraging of the network of 26 library branches across the province to operate the lending program: the libraries are already there, already open, already have a borrowing system in place, and they can even take reservations ("holds" in book terminology).

The approach might seem self-evident, but alas it's uncommon: what often happens with government programs like this is the establishment of many parallel bureaucracies and distribution systems rather than integrating new programs into existing infrastructure.

The Office of Energy Efficiency deserves credit for not only talking about efficiency, but also integrating energy efficiency into their way of doing business.

If you happen to live in Prince Edward Island and want to borrow an electric meter yourself, just search the catalog for electronic energy meter; from that page you can see which branches have meters available, and request one be held for you.

Screen shot of PEI Provincial Library Catalog

Category: Alternative Energies, | Tags: canada, prince edward island, energy-related products, library,


Andrew Chisholm on 26th October 2009:

I had no idea the province was offering this program. Thanks for the tip, Peter!

Also, I notice the status for several of the devices to be either damaged or missing. I hope people are not taking advantage of this great program.

Daniel Nylin Nilsson on 26th October 2009:

Wow! This is really great smile

Elmine Wijnia on 27th October 2009:

What a simple yet clever way of lowering thresholds for people to become more aware of their own behaviour. And a ‘copy-paste’ solution for a lot of other countries I think.

Daniel Nylin Nilsson on 27th October 2009:

I learned today that Swedish libraries are doing the same thing smile I don’t know if it is on a national scale, or local initatives.

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