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Campaign to pay for device aimed at reducing bills

A SCOTTISH electronics engineer has launched a crowdfunding campaign to cover the cost of developing a device aimed at helping people and businesses save on their utility bills.

Alex Gardiner is seeking to raise £35,000 on the Kickstarter website to allow a prototype of his Eco-wand Comfometer to be built and tested before it can be commercially launched.

The device, which Mr Gardiner has been developing for nearly four years, resembles a memory stick and plugs into a computer's USB port.

The meter measures the temperature and humidity in a room, with the device taking into account factors such as air flow and what the user is wearing.

Based on that information, it advises the user whether to alter their thermostat while ensuring they remain within their comfort zone, with any adjustments potentially bringing savings for the user.

It also brings the benefit of reducing the user's carbon footprint, Mr Gardiner said.

He said: "The main benefit is that you can save money on your heating. The government tells you to turn your thermostat down a degree, but to what? It's a meaningless statement.

"What we have done is reduce what is called our comfort zone. There are a range of temperatures and humidity that people are comfortable in - and it's only about 4 degrees wide, which is quite surprising."

Mr Gardiner, a former academic who has worked in the area of "man-machine interfaces" for 40 years, envisages the product will cost £35 when it comes to market.

Investors are invited to commit between £1 and £60 to the project, with those investing at least £30 receiving the Comfometer and software.

Mr Gardiner said it will cost about £3,000 to test the device and present it as USB compatible, noting that it must also for through the process of attaining a CE (Conformite Europeenne) marking, confirming that it conforms to European standards.

He said using the crowdfunding "allows us to have a production model built and tested to international standards".

Mr Gardiner, who has previously sold solutions to nuclear power stations such as Hunterston A, Chapelcross in Scotland, and Bradwell in Essex, added: "The pre-production models we have got have not been tested to these standards.

"The main bulk of the funding will be for testing, and the funding necessary to buy 1,000 [units]."

Although the device is not yet in commercial production, Mr Gardiner, who has taught at the Monash University in Melbourne, the University of the West of Scotland and Glasgow Caledonian University, revealed the product is currently being tested at the eco- village at Ravenscraig, North Lanarkshire, run by East Kilbride-based BRE Scotland.

The data is being analysed by academics at Strathclyde.

Mr Gardiner revealed the Eco-wand works most effectively in areas where there are "excesses of climate".

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