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How to Save the Environment – and Money – Using the Internet of Things

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The Internet of Things (IoT) as a concept is not new, but while our phones and our televisions got smarter over the last few years, our homes haven’t changed as much. There are now a growing number of IoT startups in India, such as connected-car accessory-make CarIQ, and smart-bulb maker Cube26, but does using such devices actually make life any better, or is being able to control your lights using a smartphone just a gimmick?

Smart devices aren’t just about convenience – IoT can help both your pocket, and the environment too. Using your smartphone to switch the lights or fans on and off is cool, but the actual savings it can bring is cooler. And each small improvement leads to long term good for the environment. If you can cut down your carbon footprint without any real effort, and save money too, wouldn’t you?

The question is, how much of an impact does switching to smart devices actually make. For most people, this is a difficult question to answer. We were able to find out with a simple DIY project. Numerous programmable boards are available in the market and you can use these to set up a simple experiment. This is how the experiment worked for us, and the results were very clear. We used an Arduino Uno, which you can get for under Rs. 500, and it was programmed to control two things – a tube-light that uses 40W per hour, and a desert cooler that consumes 170W per hour.

The Arduino was programmed to count the number of hours each device was used in week 1 and week 3, and control the devices ‘smartly’ in week 2 and week 4 – the tube-light would turn off if there was no activity in the room, while the desert cooler would turn off if the room’s temperature went below a specified level.

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