Everything that we do in life, in society, in the world comes back fundamentally to energy and energy use. From the water that we drink from the tap to the clothes that we wear and the technology that we use, all aspects of life can be seen as intimately connected to the energy we have available to us in our society.
The consequences of climate change are starting to force governments and individuals to make a closer connection between money and energy (we can see carbon trading initiatives as the first example of this). While energy has been very cheap for a very long time it is now starting to get more and more expensive as the costs of climate change become apparent and the availability of energy sources that used to be easy to find and generate (oil, coal, nuclear) begin to disappear.
Tring has been designed as a way of making it easier to understand how much energy we use and why. As energy gets more expensive it could begin to become as important an aspect of everyday life as money is today. But the problem with energy is that it is in some ways much more complex than money to understand. This is because energy is a more abstract idea than money.
While money can be understood as simple units (you have more or less quantity of the units: simple) energy is has to be understood as both a variable quantity of something (you use more or less energy) AND the result of the time you use the quantity over (so a television uses less power than a kettle but a kettle is only turned on for a few minutes: which one uses more energy?).
Tring works by gathering data on the energy used in a house and storing it in an online database. When you open up your Tring application the program will then display the information from the database in an interesting, intuitive and user friendly way. Tring displays 'tree rings' of energy that can be viewed at different levels of detail, from how much energy your whole house is using, or to exactly how much your electric toothbrush uses. With Tring you can look at as much or as little detail as you want. As long as your house has a way of measuring the energy and sending the data to the internet Tring can represent that data.
The other thing about Tring is that it shows energy use over time. It starts at the beginning of the day and resets itself at the end of the day. If you want to see how much energy you used over a few days, a few weeks or a few months you can do that too.
There are lots of reasons why someone would use Tring. Some people are just curious to know how much energy they use on a day-to-day basis.
When you think about it, we are surrounded by sophisticated technologies that tell you all sorts of information all the time: how long is a DVD? The DVD player will tell you. How much Internet bandwidth have I used this month? Your Internet provider will tell you. How much money do I have in my bank account? Your online banking will tell you.
We believe that if you give people the opportunity to see their energy use they will take it for no other reason than it is interesting and useful to know. The other reason why people would get Tring however is that they could potentially save themselves money. And as the price of oil and therefore energy goes up, they could save themselves more and more money simply because they have the information and the awareness that they didn't have before.