I came across this article entitled “Die Electric Project” in a book called Green Design by Marcus Fairs and thought it to be very interesting. Led by conceptual artist and electrical engineer Scott Amron, the Die Electric Project consists of a series of designs that are intended to make people “think about the amount of electricity they use while proposing alternative uses for electrical fittings in the home.” Cleverly derived from the word “dielectric,” which is an insulating material that does not transmit electricity, the products displayed in this project are designed and placed in a particular manner so that they do not consume electricity and force the owner to think about electricity conservation.
“Plugged,” shown to the left, is a simple yet meaningful example of this exhibit. It tries to convey the fact that our electricity, whose generation burns up enormous amounts of fossil fuels, is often wasted through leaks such as poor insulation and continual electric use when appliances are off. The cork physically and symbolically plugs potential electric leaks, thus helping us save appreciable amounts of electricity.
The light switch hook shown to the right presents a similar case. This hook serves as a functional hanger only if the light is turned off.
Upon reading this article, my first impression was that the electrical fitting would be useless and that people would simply unplug the devices and continue using the outlet. After careful consideration, however, it seems like even if one disconnects the dielectric device to use the outlet, the decision will be made with a conscious regard for the electricity being used.
Around 13.5% (154 KWh) of the electricity used in houses pertains to home electronics. Of this amount, a discernable percentage of this electricity is consumed when devices are turned off. Appliances such as “televisions, stereo equipment, laptops, cell phone chargers, printers, microwaves, and pretty much anything with a transformer or a clock on it, continue to use electricity unless unplugged” and are consequently the cause of wasteful electric leaks. In addition, electric plugs are significant sources for air leaks throughout the house, which result in insulation losses. Plugging these and other air leaks may have the potential to increase one’s energy savings from 5% to 30% per year.
While existing programs, such as the joint Energy Star program between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy, aim to set a standard for energy efficient appliances, the conversion to these appliances requires investment. Simple designs similar to those presented in the Die Electric Project could be a cheap, quick option to help decrease consumption and reduce energy losses as we transition into a more energy efficient era.
 Fairs, Marcus. Green Design: Creative Sustainable Designs for the Twenty-First Century. pg. 128-129