Understanding your home energy usage is an important step to to reducing it. You can get a good first start by just looking at your energy bills and thinking about why there are peaks and valleys and how this year compares to last. To go beyond looking at your bills and save even more, you need a little help from some tools.
The beginner tool for measuring your electrical usage is a Kill-A-Watt electricity usage monitor. You should definitely borrow or buy one if you haven’t already, to measure the electric usage of devices like cable boxes, cell phone chargers, TV, etc. around your house – both in their on and off positions.
The advanced tool in understanding and therefore reducing home energy usage (in this case just electricity) is a home energy monitoring device such as the The Energy Detective (TED-5000). There are a number of different home electricity monitors that measure and report your entire home electricity usage. I like the TED-5000 because it logs usage so you can see patterns, works with Google Power Meter and can also monitor solar and wind installations.
The TED-5000 that Alicia bought for me as my Christmas and birthday present finally arrived this week after a known supply delay from the manufacturer. We set it up and configured it to interface with Google Power Meter. We have been having lots of fun playing with it! After a few weeks of usage I will write a more detailed post about the TED-5000, but for now here are my first impressions.
I love seeing how much power we are consuming right now and seeing what happens when I turn off a computer or light. I also love being able to look back and see how much power was being used in the house at any given time over the past few days.
For example, with all the lights off and everyone in bed, we are still consuming about 300W. I have also detected an interesting pattern that might be the circulator pumps for our boiler using about 150W and cycling on during the night. We were under the impression the heat wasn’t kicking in at night because we have the thermostat down low enough. This pattern might also be from the refrigerator or freezer. These are both going to require some additional exploration to see if we can identify everything that makes the always on load of 300W and see if any of that can be eliminated.
As I have time to play and learn more, I’ll be sure to write up a more in depth article on how to use the TED-5000.