02/15/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Tattletale House Knows When You're Not Green (And So Do Neighbors)

Most homeowners have a general sense of whether or not they are being energy efficient, a hunch confirmed or disproved when the monthly bills arrive. But occupants of a prefabricated house designed by Kaplan Thompson Architects, a firm in Portland, Me., will receive real-time feedback through a system Phil Kaplan, one of the architects, describes as "an update on the mood ring."

The super-insulated, solar-heated BrightBuilt Barn is equipped with a device that analyzes electricity use and communicates that data to a skirt of LEDs affixed to the base of the home's exterior. If the house is on track to create more energy than it uses, the lights turn green; yellow is a borderline condition, and red means the owners should shut off appliances or turn down the heat.

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