What is Ecowatt, the government app that warns of power cuts?

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The EcoWatt app, the latest government app, is enjoying dazzling success as fears surrounding power cuts this winter intensify.

Xavier Piechaczyk, Chairman of the Management Board of RTE, the operator of the French electricity network, announced “300,000 downloads this week” at the microphone of France Inter on December 6, 2022. And to add:

We were at 700,000 downloads on Sunday evening, that doubled in a few days.

The French have therefore responded to the government’s call for downloading. But EcoWatt, what is it exactly?

EcoWatt: follow the state of the electricity network live

Developed by RTE and the Ecological Transition Agency (Adèle), the EcoWatt application is also available in a web version from any browser.

In a sober (black and green) and minimalist interface, the EcoWatt application is therefore within everyone’s reach.

The service allows follow live the state of the electrical network thanks to a color code: green when all is well, orange when the network begins to overload, red when the network is saturated. In the latter case, cuts are then considered.

EcoWatt also allows you to subscribe to SMS alerts or activate notifications to be notified when the electricity network looks tight over the next three days. To get local information, just enter your address, the application does not request any access to your geolocation data.

Small everyday gestures

EcoWatt is not just an alert application. The government promises that its app also allows “better consumption” energy. To do this, EcoWatt lists small everyday gestures that save money. Among them are the gestures hammered home by members of the government: lowering the temperature to 19°C, covering pots during cooking, reducing the use of hot water, running washing machines at off-peak hours, turning off computers and consoles, generalize the use of LED bulbs etc.

In absolute terms, the approach is good but the tools are, in our opinion, incomplete. For example, we would have liked to find precise information on the amount of energy saved for each gesture made. For example, Ademe indicates that lowering the temperature by 1°C in each household would reduce national consumption by 7%, recalls Liberation.

In the case of washing machines and dryers, EcoWatt also does not indicate the energy saved by using eco modes. No mention either of connected bulbs which allow to set up anti-waste scenarios or to reduce the intensity of light.

Anyway, if EcoWatt turns out to be a good tool for monitoring and optimizing energy consumption, it is also not recommended to fall into psychosis. Admittedly, RTE provides for less electrical power compared to other winters (40 GW against 50 to 60 GW usually).

But the French seem to have heard the message from the authorities. “We are starting to see that the curve is well oriented, households have committed to sobriety” welcomes Xavier Piechaczyk, Chairman of the RTE Executive Board. The operator of the French electricity network even observed a drop in consumption of between 6 and 7%. So don’t panic.

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