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Episode #86

The 'Home of the Future' Will Save the Planet... and Drive You Crazy

When your house can track every kilowatt of energy you use, it gets personal fast.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Kathy Sokolic and her husband, Mike Sears, outside their home in the Muëller community (Jennifer Hsu/WNYC)

There's a neighborhood in Austin, Texas where the refrigerators tell stories. The roofs are paved in solar panels. There are more electric cars per capita here in the Muëller community than in any residential neighborhood in America. It's a kind of paradise and it could drive you nuts.

It's also the future happening right now. 

Even when she's out, Kathy Sokolic can tell when her husband gets home or leaves because the light switches leave a trail. In their house, every carbon footprint gets tracked as part of the Pecan Street Research Project. It's preparation for America's energy future. Seven hundred otherwise-normal homes have been wired to track how people really use energy when they have things like solar panels, smart thermostats and electric cars, lots of electric cars.

The thing is, in the process of gathering all that information, the people who live here now are awash in data about themselves and that changes how they behave. Hear their story in this week's New Tech City. 

If you like this episode, why not subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, or listen to past episodes in the green player on the right. Or follow us on Twitter

 

EXTRAS:

Here's the chart mentioned in the podcast where Sokolic spotted her refrigerator behaving oddly and took action!

 

 

VIDEO: Peek inside the homes of Muëller.

    Music Playlist
  1. Reaching Out
    Artist: Jack Ventimiglia
  2. Lo-Fi Kid
    Artist: Jack Ventimiglia
  3. Beets
    Artist: Jack Ventimiglia
  4. Cedar
    Artist: Jack Ventimiglia
  5. Frozen Breath
    Artist: Cullen Fitzpatrick

Hosted by:

Manoush Zomorodi

Produced by:

Alex Goldmark

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