Markets in everything watch

Bored guests at a certain Crowne Plaza hotel can now skip the pricey mini-bar and hop on an exercise bike, generate some electricity, and earn some meal vouchers. The hotel in Copenhagen started the free meal idea as a way to boost guests' fitness and shrink their carbon footprint, according to the BBC.

The bikes are hooked up to generators that require guests of average fitness to pedal for about 15 minutes to create 10 watt-hours of electricity. iPhones attached to the handlebars display the amount of power being generated.

Hitting the 15-minute mark earns lucky exercisers a $36 meal voucher…

There's more here, courtesy of Daniel Hall.  Then there's Washington Express:

  • Washington Express has a professional Line Standing team that specializes in monitoring congressional hearing schedules, as well as the demand for particular hearings.
  • Washington Express constantly checks the demand for individual hearings so we can accurately suggest the proper line standing starting time.
  • Washington Express regularly surveys committee websites to check for hearing re-locations and postponements so that your line standing is done at the right time and place.

The rate is $36.00 an hour and that one comes from Timothy McKenna.

Darren Johnson sends along meteor hunting in Wisconsin.


The bikes will eventually become mandatory, as will the exercise.

That's pretty funny. Ten Watt-hours is a trivial amount of energy. An iPhone consumes 4-6W of power. So if 15 minutes of pedaling generates 10 Watt-Hours of power, more than 10% of that power is consumed by the iPhone doing the monitoring. And I absolutely guarantee that lighting and heating the room uses up more power than is generated on the bikes.

If the customer plugs in his iPhone back at the room in and leaves it on the charger for 24 hours, he or she will burn up 120 Watt-Hours of power, because the iPhone charger draws 5W of power when the iPhone is plugged in.

Ten Watt-Hours of power is the amount of energy consumed by a 60W light bulb in ten minutes.

And of course, human power isn't energy free. Riding the bike consumes calories, which will be replaced by that $36 meal - the preparation of which probably uses ten times as much energy.

Another way to look at it is in terms of energy cost. The most expensive forms of energy cost no more than 20-30 cents per kWh. Since Denmark is very 'green', I'll assume their energy costs are pretty high. So, 10 Watt-hours of power is worth at most .2 to .3 cents. For that you get a $36 meal voucher? That would be a hell of a deal - if the cost of the meal wasn't priced into the other services of the hotel.

This is simply marketing. The hotel is apparently marketed as an 'eco hotel', and probably has a plethora of meaningless gimmicks like this to appeal to people who care about the environment, but not enough to stay home or bother to do the math.

Is subsidizing good supposed to make us healthier?

You might well burn more than 250 calories, but your useful output will be about that. Thermodynamics affects everything even the extrodinary fuel cell that is our body.

What's the payoff period on the bike with a great idea like that one. 100 years?

Let me guess: the $36 meal voucher is covered by a $27 reimbursement from the government, and the rest of it is made up in the free advertising they are getting from this gimmick.

Everyone gets to feel good! Except the taxpayers of course. But, they'll never know.

Would you like me to show you some non-mathematical modeling in economics, and explain the difference between econometrics and economics?

The health benefits are external to the hotel. How can it monetize them?

It is good to know that Washington Express regularly surveys for the same.

If this were serious and not a gimmick they'd hook up the treadmills in the gym to generate electricity instead...

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