March 17, 08
Award Winning Device Monitors a Home’s “Carbon Footprint”

A housewife coping with a life-threatening disease has won the 10th annual British Female Inventors and Innovators award for invented a device which aims to change people's attitude to home energy consumption.

Tanya Ewing was inspired to create her monitoring device after becoming frustrated with hidden and difficult-to-read utility meters.

The 38-year-old from Perth, who suffers from Lyme disease, now has a global patent pending on her Ewgeco device.

It aims to show water, gas and electricity consumption at a glance.

Mrs Ewing came up with her idea after realising that utility bills were accounting for a larger slice of her monthly household outgoings.

She said she has been inundated with inquiries about her energy efficiency device from house builders, home improvement stores and councils ahead of it going on sale in late 2007.

"If you have a good idea, take it further otherwise you may always regret not knowing what might have been"

The device, which aims to provide a picture of a home's "carbon footprint", works by displaying electricity, water and gas use on an LCD display, with a bar of lights showing the level of consumption.

It also aims to remind children as well as adults that leaving appliances such as televisions on standby costs money.

"The majority of the population are unaware of the true cost of appliances," said Mrs Ewing.

"Ewgeco is straightforward to use to monitor the household's gas, electricity and water consumption.

"It will encourage them switch appliances off rather than leave them on standby which will result in lower energy consumption, lower utility bills, reduce the risk of debt, and, at the same time, do their bit to reduce the impact of climate change."

Mrs Ewing, who contracted Lyme disease since 1999, had to spend short spells working on the project because of the debilitating physical and neurological effects of her condition.

Sometimes her hands were so sore that she could not even type, but she said she wanted to be an inspiration to other people in similar situations.

Mrs Ewing, who is also expecting her first child, said: "Life is just too short. If you have a good idea take it further otherwise you may always regret not knowing what might have been."

Her project has received support from the Perth Business Gateway organisation, as well as Scottish Enterprise Tayside.