Guest Post Written by Beth Kelly
As a conscientious homeowner, it’s useful to know when and how electricity is being used throughout your home, and if your property is becoming more or less energy-efficient over time. Monitors can help you discover which devices are power hogs, and where else around the home you can tighten down on energy usage. Using an energy monitoring device to measure your home’s energy consumption is the first step to reducing it. With one of these handy tools, you can drastically diminish both the amount of energy you use and the amount of CO2 you produce each year.
If you’re also interested in cutting back on energy costs, energy use monitors can make a big impact on your wallet as well. Installations usually require an electrician, since the base unit connects to a home’s circuit-breaker box and nearby wiring. But once they’re in place, the monitors are easy to use. Ultimately, the goal of these devices is allow you to control and manage your energy use, and prevent “energy vampires” from sucking unneeded power from the outlets in your home. Read on to learn about different monitoring products and the services they can provide for your family:
“Smart” Power Strips: Promising to automatically power down peripheral electronics when they are not in use, these products are proven to pay for themselves in as little as six weeks. Smart power strips can help keep common electronic accessories from absorbing unneeded electricity. Traditional power strips are an easy and affordable way to increase the number of electrical outlets in your home, but their convenience can result in many devices being plugged in at the same time – allowing all the electronics to continue draining power even when they’re not in use. Smart power strips, however, strive to reduce your power usage by cutting off power to devices in standby mode.
TED Energy Detective: Capable of measuring your home in totality, the TED Energy Detective is a highly comprehensive energy monitoring system. Featuring a real-time display showing how many watts your house is using at any given time, along with the equivalent hourly cost, the TED systems provide continuous feedback about your energy use. The product has detailed installation instructors, and the creators hope that users will be able install TED Energy Detectives inside their own homes without much difficulty – but with electricity it’s best to err on the site of caution and consider having it put it professionally. There are several different models of the TED home system, all of which accurately tell you what your energy bill will be before it arrives. The TED 5000-C works with Google PowerMeter and comes with all the components necessary to monitor energy usage, plus a wireless display that serves as a reminder to keep you aware of your household energy usage. In addition, you can still use your computer or mobile device to track your energy data.
Kill-A-Watt: With its large LCD display, the Kill-A-Watt measures the energy used by devices plugged directly into its meter. It displays voltage, current, reactive and apparent power, power factor, energy consumed in kWh and hours connected. Some Kill-A-Watt models also display the estimated cost for the energy used. A “beginner” tool for measuring your electrical usage, it is capable of measuring how much power your cable boxes, cell phone chargers, TV, and other electrical devices are using.
Owl Energy Monitor: Another monitor designed to help households realize just how much electricity and money is wasted on “energy vampire” products and other electrical devices using unnecessary amounts of power. Despite being one of the least expensive monitors on the market, the Owl still gives you all the vital information you’ll need to monitor energy use. The readout shown on the monitor updates itself every 5 to 60 seconds, allowing you to easily figure out how much juice an appliance or light is drawing by turning it off and on and noting the difference in power use. The monitor will show energy use in real time, either in cost or kilowatt interval.
Today, technology has been fine-tuned to the point that a good energy monitoring system can keep you informed and in control of your home’s energy usage. The accurate digital displays of the products listed above (and others) will give you new insight into where your power and money is going each month.
Along with buying your energy from renewable sources, which is easier than ever for homeowners to find through websites like albertaenergyproviders.com in Canada or epa.gov/greenpower/pubs/gplocator.htm in the US, tracking and monitoring your energy consumption and reducing it accordingly is also hugely beneficial for the environment. These monitors “should be as widespread as TV sets,” said Jon Wellinghoff, chairman of the American Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in a recent interview. Wellinghoff has an energy monitor in his home, and says he cut his home power consumption and his electricity bill by 3% to 5% in the first few months.
“Energy vampire” devices and power companies may lead you to think you have no control over the amount of energy your home uses, but with smart power strips and energy monitoring systems, you can lessen both the financial and environmental cost of your home.
About the Author: Beth Kelly is a freelance writer and blogger. She frequently covers home energy and DIY repair topics. Originally from Michigan, Beth now lives and works in Chicago, IL. Follow her on Twitter at @bkelly_88