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5 minutes with David Soutar, Wattcost CEO & co-founder
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5 minutes with David Soutar, Wattcost CEO & co-founder

David Soutar is one of a kind (he’s the one on the left below). A man on a mission to change the way households consume and manage their electricity costs; and accurately offset their carbon emissions with very little effort. No easy feat, but he and cofounder Tell Mueller-Pettenpohl with their team of data scientists and engineers have done just that!

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Together, they developed the Wattcost Beacon - an intelligent monitoring device that homeowners and renters can easily ‘stick-on’ their electricity meters to start saving money on power bills, and use to accurately offset the carbon emissions generated from their electricity use. The Wattcost Beacon and free smartphone app also work on fuse boxes commonly found in apartment buildings and solar systems.

We’re proud to partner with Wattcost, the first intelligent electricity and carbon monitoring product of its kind in the world. By combining the strengths of “real-time” energy monitoring and Greenfleet’s reforestation program, reducing energy costs and offsetting household carbon emissions has never been easier or more accurate. In fact, Wattcost enabled homes can offset their carbon emissions at the click of a button!

We recently caught up with David to talk about the challenges of getting Wattcost off the ground, why every home should install the beacon and the future for this exciting technology.

Greenfleet: Hi David, where did the idea behind Wattcost originate, I mean, why do we need Wattcost?


David: I had spent 20 plus years working in consumer electronics and building automation. We’d built energy efficient solutions for commercial and industrial businesses to save them lots of money, and there was nothing helping every day, regular households. It simply didn’t exist.

I could foresee electricity prices were on the rise again and there was no stopping it, so I decided to build a product that would be easy to install and allow consumers a real chance to make serious savings on their home power bills and also reduce their personal carbon footprint.

 

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We know technology startups can take time and effort to get off the ground, what are some of the biggest challenges Wattcost has experienced so far?

The first product prototype could only work on newer electricity meters and we knew that most meters were still of the older mechanical spinning disc type. We really wanted to create a global product that was low-cost and accessible to everyone. More prototypes followed, but our next big issue was power - can you believe that most electricity meters don’t have a power outlet nearby?

We needed to create a product that was easy to install and self-powered. Five prototypes later and over a year of testing around Australia, we have now developed a beautiful product that works on all electricity meters (even the older style running disc meters) and operates on four regular alkaline batteries for up to six months. You even get an alert message in the Wattcost smartphone app when it’s time to replace the batteries!

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What do you think are the biggest hurdles consumers face when dealing with the larger electricity retailers?

Ultimately, I feel as homeowners or renters, we have lost control and are at the mercy of the big power retailers and policy makers. We are not armed with the power of knowledge, to know how much electricity our homes are using or what action to take to reduce our costs and carbon footprint.

Wattcost disrupts that notion and arms people with accurate personalised knowledge. With very little effort, consumers can make simple changes to save hundreds of dollars and do their bit for the environment by accurately offsetting their household carbon emissions. Thanks to our partnership with Greenfleet, in just three button clicks in the Wattcost smartphone app, we can all make a real difference by planting native trees.

What about solar owners, how does Wattcost help them?

Good question. Wattcost sends solar owners real-time alerts about their solar system, like how to optimise their solar use and when the system has issues. Up to 51% of solar systems in Australia are unreliable with grid connection errors or require further optimisations. Wattcost helps solar owners get the most out of their system ensuring things are running smoothly and bringing them up to speed on any issues that require immediate attention, all in real-time.
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Any other surprises you would like to share with the Greenfleet community about Wattcost?


That depends… how much time have you got? Currently Wattcost can detect and send alerts if you’ve accidentally left on a major appliance before it becomes an expensive issue (ever left home and wondered if you’ve accidentally left on the iron or perhaps a hair-straightener?). It can also detect if your fridge is faulty and needs servicing or replacing. We have many more exciting features in the product roadmap, we’re really only just getting started with this technology so keep watching this space…

It’s been a pleasure talking with you, David. I believe Wattcost is currently running a pre-order campaign, what can people who want your technology in their home do to help?

The pleasure is all mine! We are super excited about the partnership with Greenfleet and know Wattcost customers will be in very good hands when it comes to carbon offsetting and native tree planting.

We are currently running a pre-order campaign, which will help Wattcost commence manufacturing here in Australia. As a Greenfleet supporter, you can lock in your pre-order for $179 using promotion code GF20 on checkout, which adds up to a saving of $70 off the RRP$249. We’ll also pre-charge Greenfleet supporter’s accounts with 1 tonne of carbon offsets from Greenfleet to get them underway.

Learn more about Wattcost and this revolutionary Australian technology by visiting their website.

 

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