September 5, 2008

Engineers Make the Most of Energy

Engineers and University of Canterbury friends Chris Mardon and Tom Mackenzie founded Christchurch-based Energy Mad Ltd in 2004. With extensive market research, design and development, they "engineered out" all of the flaws of early models of compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and developed the Ecobulb - a high-power factor, high- performance, energy-saving bulb.

Energy Mad started by testing 100 CFLs in 2004, selecting the best of these for advanced development to meet New Zealand consumer requirements (high light output, compact size, attractive shape, long life and the ability to be switched on and off frequently), and to maximise the benefits for the nation's electricity networks (by having a high-power factor and low-total-harmonic distortion).

Since November 2004 Energy Mad has implemented 30 regional Household Efficient Lighting Projects throughout New Zealand, with the initial projects being in South Canterbury, followed by Christchurch.

In conjunction with utilities, the Government, Foodstuffs and Shell, every household in the participating region had the opportunity to purchase five energy-saving Ecobulbs for $10 upon presentation of a direct- mailed voucher. In participating regions an average of 50 per cent of households purchased five Ecobulbs, with over three million Ecobulbs replacing incandescent light bulbs in New Zealand households. Cumulative electricity savings of 1701GWh (saving consumers $300 million) and 1,060,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide will be achieved over the life of the Ecobulbs.

Winner of the 2007 Deloitte Fast 50 Award, Energy Mad is constantly developing to lead technological advancements and meet consumer demand. The company has recently launched new technologies, including the mini-downlight (halogen replacement) and the covered Ecobulb, and is about to launch the 12-volt halogen replacement. Energy Mad is currently working on other technologies, with dimmable versions of existing Ecobulbs in the pipeline.

These developments saw Energy Mad achieve its mission of getting five energy saving Ecobulbs in 50 per cent of the homes in New Zealand and saving all the electricity used by Christchurch homes by 2007.

Its current mission is "lessening climate change by saving enough electricity to power Europe", by replacing the world's 29 billion incandescent bulbs and halogens with Ecobulbs by December 31, 2012.

In 2007 Energy Mad launched a pilot EcoSmartHome project in North Canterbury. The aim is to help each New Zealand home save up to $11,000 over five years.


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