In the movie The Social Network, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t want ads on an early version of his social network; he understands that first and foremost, his site has to be cool. And ads, he says, aren’t cool.
Unlike Zuckerberg (well, at least in the beginning), the energy efficiency industry hasn’t quite grasped the value of being cool. It’s an industry that hopes to be popular because it’s right, and it uses less-than-sexy language like “demand-side management” and “load following device” to describe itself. Sure, being “green” seems to have taken off, but when it comes to efficiency, well, it’s hard to build a cool brand around an industry that so loves its technical jargon.
Luckily, the industry is beginning to wake up. This week and next we’ll take a look at how the energy efficiency industry is working on its cool factor. No pun intended.
Gadgets like portable music devices, smart phones and cameras have long been must-haves for the “it” crowd. And next, charging them in unique and efficient ways will be the rage.
Enter the itsy-bitsy, teenie-weenie, photovoltaic bikini – proof that form-meets-function stands a chance beyond the energy nerd. We’ve seen the solar-charger backpacks, laptop cases and other wearables like military uniforms – but nothing says sexy like a chick in a bikini.
That may be why designer Andrew Schneider came up with this hot little number: a custom-made solar bikini retrofitted with 40 1×4” PowerFilm Solar photovoltaic film strips that are sewn together with conductive thread and end in a USB port.
That’s right – even beach babes care about energy efficiency. A gal in a solar bikini can generate enough energy to charge her iPhone with an output similar to that of a laptop’s USB port – and look good while doing it. Since no energy is actually stored in the bikini, wearers can still take an “unplugged” dip and return to charging when the suit is completely dry.
Ok, so perhaps solar panels need some time before they’re sexy enough for the runway. But the intention behind the swimsuit suggests we’re headed in the right direction: there are easy, fun and energy efficient ways to support that hip lifestyle of yours.
And speaking of, if you’re looking for something form-meets function but with a little more coverage, stay tuned for iDrink – men’s solar swim trunks with enough surface area to keep your drinks cold.
Final note: A very limited number of suits are available from Solar Coterie, although you might have to skip the snow cones if you want one. The cost of the solar bikini will range from $500-$1,500 and up, depending on the design.
Cara Miale is a freelance writer in Denver, Colorado and a frequent contributor to Energy Efficiency Markets.