Page last updated at 10:20 GMT, Friday, 22 May 2009 11:20 UK

Interactive plant's design award

Joe Harrison's design
If an appliance is inefficient, one of the plant's corresponding leaves will 'wilt

A design student from Swansea has won a £1,000 national award for a system that monitors domestic energy use.

Joe Harrison's design uses electronic wallpaper to display the efficiency of household appliances on an interactive digital plant.

People can see how energy efficient and sustainable their homes are.

The third year student from Clydach who studies at Bournemouth's Arts Institute beat competition from hundreds of students around the UK.

The prize was awarded by the Royal Society for the encouragement of arts, manufactures and commerce (RSA).

If an appliance is performing inefficiently, one of the plant's corresponding leaves will "wilt", alerting householders to the problem and showing them which appliance needs attention.

His success means the 22-year-old has now joined the ranks of earlier RSA award winners like Jonathan Ive - responsible for the iPod concept - and fashion designer Betty Jackson.

His work will go on display, along with other winners, in an RSA Design Directions Awards Online Exhibition at the end of the month.

His award will give him the opportunity to develop his idea further.

Next month he will be working with a number of companies to develop the concept, looking at the technology and materials available to see if it has commercial potential.

He said: "Energy conservation is a really important issue for everyone, but it can be difficult for people to keep an eye on the amount of energy they are using in their homes every day.

"I hope that my design offers a way forward that is easy, fun and attractive, and give people a practical way to reduce the amount of energy they use - saving them money and helping the environment."

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