Wasting Electricty? You’re Going Broke

Warning Bulb enables you to visually check your electricity usage. It’s well known greenhouse gases source most of its CO2 from power plants. The generated electricity is not always put to efficient use. 11% of the power is wasted through plugged in idle appliances. The idea behind Warning Bulb is to prevent wasted energy by showing you how much money you’re spending and how fast.

Similar products are already flooding the market but Warning Bulb takes a different approach, one that may finally put you and your wasteful attitudes in check because at the end of the day nobody likes it when their money is f*cked with.

How do the designers do it? The system is designed around the idea of a pre-paid electricity card controlled by a fuse box. Inserting the card into the fuse box lets you check your “balance” and shows exactly how much power you’re using. The balance is determined in electricity per minute (EPM) which reflects how much you’re paying in real time. The more you use, the yellower the bulb becomes and once you approach your allotted amount, the “W” in the center flashes.

It’s an interesting idea and definitely could teach people to be more frugal. Years ago my cellular bill always topped out over $150. I placed myself on a pre-paid wireless plan just so I became consciously aware of my calling habits and adjusted according. In a perfect world where infrastructure wasn’t such an issue, a similar system for electricty might be a good thing.

Designers: Ga-Ye Kim, Young-Duk Song & Yoon-Sun Yang


  • Todd says:

    Is there a device that shows the last 9 years of declining temperatures? Or the record buildup of polar icecaps last year? Or that C02 levels trail temperature changes by about ten years?

    If you’re a self-hater, it wouldn’t be as much fun to see the good news.

    • Eric says:

      Ya let’s treat the climate like a credit card. My rates are fine now, lets keep spending! Everything I get from them says it’s fine, so it must always stay that way!

    • Pzon says:

      I agree!

  • Eric says:

    Honestly people shouldn’t need a device to tell them things they can figure out on their own like “how much crap do I have turned on/plugged in right now.”

    • Rewind says:

      Ya let’s treat the climate like a credit card. My rates are fine now, lets keep spending! Everything I get from them says it’s fine, so it must always stay that way!

  • Pzon says:

    Not the smartest idea for our world…should stay as a concept!

  • Jason says:

    People shouldn’t need to be told how to save energy. Unfortunately, when there’s an abundance (in this case, ever-flowing electricity) people tend to take it for granted. Prepayment gives them an incentive to save.

    There’s a prepaid electricity program currently active in Indonesia..


  • Todd says:

    Agreed – not the smartest idea. It only plays well for college students trying to get chicks. It would work great for that.

    It shows sensitivity and caring about Gaia. That is the real goal, since the context of the device is based on pseudoscience.

  • Chuck says:


  • Cromagnum says:

    This will catch on …. when Al Gore puts one in his mansion with a webcam showing it 24/7.

    I though the prepaid cell cards were for poor people who don’t have credit or common sense to pay bills on time.

    Somehow i see an electricity lobby against this. They dont want the credit cards taking 1-2% of the utility money.

  • Oh its a cute thing, but if you really wanted to solve the problem you would have a induction powered wireless unit that clamps around each item and transmits that data to your pc/iphone/what ever. Oh zippy is looking for some designers and illustrators, so if you feel you have the talent drop me a line at zippyflounder.com

  • vlad says:

    interesting idea, just as long as there are reasonable limits, and the electricity produced that way is green. If it’s just to allow rich people to pollute like they spend cash without feeling guilty then yea, useless.

    I think monitoring of energy and making that data available as contests is really promising to raise the awareness of HOW MUCH exactly gets used by what makes sense.

    We’re building such a network of devices to measure energy at our lab, check it out here: http://www.webofthings.com

    I think if the info about consumption is displayed unobtrusively but with a nice, appealing design then it can really have a powerful imapct.

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