Besides seeing how low you can go, PowerMeter lets you monitor your home’s energy use from any location with Internet access. An interesting anecdote is the story of a woman who accessed her PowerMeter app on her cell phone on the way to work—and noticed that the power level seemed high by almost a kilowatt. Curious, she returned home to find a toaster oven that had been left on. Its white plastic housing was turning brown and looked like it was ready to catch on fire. Talk about saving the day! This is the type of increased energy awareness that these tools can create.
With or without the PowerMeter, the TED 5000 system is a good investment in a well-designed tool. You can use it to find the energy wasters among family members. Seeing your real-time energy use can help to change patterns of behavior. Family can be encouraged to compete in energy-saving activities—it’s all about raising energy consciousness.
TED requires a home computer network, but for those less digitally enabled, using a watt-meter can yield good results. With diligence and patience, you can find your entire home’s phantom loads and control them with timers or power strips.
Tools like these can help you along the path to savings—both energy and cash. Eventually talking about kWh will be as common as talking about mpg is today. Almost everyone understands automobile fuel economy and can ballpark what kind of mileage their cars get—but people who understand kWh and know how much energy their homes use on a daily or monthly basis are not as common. Think about it—can you rattle off how much energy your home used last month? That can be the frame of reference for improvement—all you need are the tools and information.
Guy Marsden documents his passion for living sustainably at www.arttec.net. Guy is a self-taught electrical engineer who develops electronic prototypes for private inventors and small companies.
“Solar Heat Upgrade: Expanding & Improving an Owner-Installed System,” by Guy Marsden in HP119
Link to energy-monitoring products • http://blog.mapawatt.com/2009/10/07/list-of-energy-monitoring-tools/
Brand Electronics • www.brandelectronics.com
Google PowerMeter • www.google.com/powermeter
HOBO data loggers • www.onsetcomp.com
iGoogle • www.google.com/ig
Kill A Watt • www.p3international.com
The Energy Detective • www.theenergydetective.com
Watts Up? • www.wattsupmeters.com