Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Leonardo DiCaprio Is at It Again, Invests in Energy Technology Company Zuli

Leonardo DiCaprio Is at It Again, Invests in Energy Technology Company Zuli

Zuli, creator of the Zuli Smartplug, announced today that world-renowned actor and environmental philanthropist Leonardo DiCaprio has joined the company’s board of advisors. DiCaprio also invested an undisclosed sum in the company, joining a group of existing Zuli advisors and institutional and private investors that includes Menlo Ventures, Logitech, Winklevoss Capital, Guy Kawasaki and Hossein Eslambolchi (Former CTO, AT&T).

With Zuli’s first product, the Zuli Smartplug, just plug it in, connect any light or appliance, and immediately gain control of it from your smartphone. Photo credit: Zuli

Zuli builds proprietary software and hardware that simply optimizes energy efficiency by enabling homes to adapt passively around individual preferences.

“Our world faces an unprecedented climate challenge—but every person can be part of the solution if they commit to making sustainability and conservation part of their daily lives and routines,” said DiCaprio. “Technologies like Zuli empower individuals to turn their homes into models of energy efficiency. This technology is scalable, and an important part of helping reduce an individual’s impact on the environment.”

With Zuli’s first product, the Zuli Smartplug, just plug it in, connect any light or appliance, and immediately gain control of it from your smartphone. The Zuli app allows you to turn appliances on/off, dim lights, set schedules, see energy usage and even estimate monthly costs of all your devices.

The Zuli app allows you to turn appliances on/off, dim lights, set schedules, see energy usage and even estimate monthly costs of all your devices. Photo credit: Zuli

Zuli’s proprietary “Presence” technology can accurately pin-point your location within the home, adjusting lighting, temperature and more to your preferences simply by walking into a room. Zuli also works in the background to passively save energy by shutting off unused devices when you leave a room—cutting off phantom power from devices in idle mode.

“Adding smartphone control to our homes is a great step, but to make them truly smart, we need to be focused on how we enable our homes to learn about what we like, understand our needs contextually, and make autonomous and efficient decisions for us,” Zuli CEO Taylor Umphreys said. “We are pleased to have the involvement of advisors and investors like Leo as we work to put our technology to work in every home in America.”

Zuli is the featured Smartplug on the Works with Nest platform, and enables users to control their Nest temperature and enable Zuli Presence with their thermostat all within the Zuli App. Zuli has also announced upcoming partnerships with Logitech Harmony and Research Frontiers Smartglass.


Elon Musk: We Can Power America by Covering Small Corner of Utah With Solar

Leonardo DiCaprio and Greg Barker Join Forces to Bring Solar to Off-Grid Communities

Fossil Fuel Stocks Tumble, Renewable Energy Stocks Soar

Morocco and California Lead the Way in Replacing Fossil Fuels With Renewable Energy

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A resident works in the vegetable garden of the Favela Nova Esperanca – a "green favela" which reuses everything and is subject to the ethics of permaculture – in the outskirts of Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Feb. 14, 2020. NELSON ALMEIDA / AFP via Getty Images

Farmers are the stewards of our planet's precious soil, one of the least understood and untapped defenses against climate change. Because of its massive potential to store carbon and foundational role in growing our food supply, soil makes farming a solution for both climate change and food security.

Read More Show Less
Once the virus escapes into the air inside a building, you have two options: bring in fresh air from outside or remove the virus from the air inside the building. Halfpoint Images / Getty Images

By Shelly Miller

The vast majority of SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs indoors, most of it from the inhalation of airborne particles that contain the coronavirus. The best way to prevent the virus from spreading in a home or business would be to simply keep infected people away. But this is hard to do when an estimated 40% of cases are asymptomatic and asymptomatic people can still spread the coronavirus to others.

Read More Show Less
California Senator Kamala Harris endorses Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden at a campaign rally at Renaissance High School in Detroit, Michigan on March 9, 2020. JEFF KOWALSKY / AFP via Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden made a historic announcement Tuesday when he named California Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate in the 2020 presidential election.

Read More Show Less
An aerial view taken on August 8, 2020 shows a large patch of leaked oil from the MV Wakashio off the coast of Mauritius. STRINGER / AFP / Getty Images

The tiny island nation of Mauritius, known for its turquoise waters, vibrant corals and diverse ecosystem, is in the midst of an environmental catastrophe after a Japanese cargo ship struck a reef off the country's coast two weeks ago. That ship, which is still intact, has since leaked more than 1,000 metric tons of oil into the Indian Ocean. Now, a greater threat looms, as a growing crack in the ship's hull might cause the ship to split in two and release the rest of the ship's oil into the water, NPR reported.

On Friday, Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth declared a state of environmental emergency.

France has sent a military aircraft carrying pollution control equipment from the nearby island of Reunion to help mitigate the disaster. Additionally, Japan has sent a six-member team to assist as well, the BBC reported.

The teams are working to pump out the remaining oil from the ship, which was believed to be carrying 4,000 metric tons of fuel.

"We are expecting the worst," Mauritian Wildlife Foundation manager Jean Hugues Gardenne said on Monday, The Weather Channel reported. "The ship is showing really big, big cracks. We believe it will break into two at any time, at the maximum within two days. So much oil remains in the ship, so the disaster could become much worse. It's important to remove as much oil as possible. Helicopters are taking out the fuel little by little, ton by ton."

Sunil Dowarkasing, a former strategist for Greenpeace International and former member of parliament in Mauritius, told CNN that the ship contains three oil tanks. The one that ruptured has stopped leaking oil, giving disaster crews time to use a tanker and salvage teams to remove oil from the other two tanks before the ship splits.

By the end of Tuesday, the crew had removed over 1,000 metric tons of oil from the ship, NPR reported, leaving about 1,800 metric tons of oil and diesel, according to the company that owns the ship. So far the frantic efforts are paying off. Earlier today, a local police chief told BBC that there were still 700 metric tons aboard the ship.

The oil spill has already killed marine animals and turned the turquoise water black. It's also threatening the long-term viability of the country's coral reefs, lagoons and shoreline, NBC News reported.

"We are starting to see dead fish. We are starting to see animals like crabs covered in oil, we are starting to see seabirds covered in oil, including some which could not be rescued," said Vikash Tatayah, conservation director at Mauritius Wildlife Foundation, according to The Weather Channel.

While the Mauritian authorities have asked residents to leave the clean-up to officials, locals have organized to help.

"People have realized that they need to take things into their hands. We are here to protect our fauna and flora," environmental activist Ashok Subron said in an AFP story.

Reuters reported that sugar cane leaves, plastic bottles and human hair donated by locals are being sewn into makeshift booms.

Human hair absorbs oil, but not water, so scientists have long suggested it as a material to contain oil spills, Gizmodo reported. Mauritians are currently collecting as much human hair as possible to contribute to the booms, which consist of tubes and nets that float on the water to trap the oil.

A northern mockingbird on June 24, 2016. Renee Grayson / CC BY 2.0

Environmentalists and ornithologists found a friend in a federal court on Tuesday when a judge struck down a Trump administration attempt to allow polluters to kill birds without repercussions through rewriting the Migratory Treaty Bird Act (MBTA).

Read More Show Less
A spiny dogfish shark swims in the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary off the coast of Washington. NOAA / Wikimedia Commons

By Elizabeth Claire Alberts

There are trillions of microplastics in the ocean — they bob on the surface, float through the water column, and accumulate in clusters on the seafloor. With plastic being so ubiquitous, it's inevitable that marine organisms, such as sharks, will ingest them.

Read More Show Less


A "vessel of opportunity" skims oil spilled after the Deepwater Horizon well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010. NOAA / Flickr / CC by 2.0

By Loveday Wright and Stuart Braun

After a Japanese-owned oil tanker struck a reef off Mauritius on July 25, a prolonged period of inaction is threatening to become an ecological disaster.

Read More Show Less