Using power is a fantastic thing for everybody. It saves you money and helps the environment. But controlling power use — when we think about it whatsoever — is often a guessing game.
Any proprietor of a gas-electric hybrid car will tell you these cars use less fuel for two reasons. First, the vehicles are more fuel efficient than many ordinary gas-powered cars. But the second reason is less well known. Most hybrids have a running meter which shows you in real time how much gas you are using. Should you ease up on the accelerator, you are rewarded by a bar showing hardly any fuel consumption.
As a result of this observation, many hybrid-car owners drive more fuel economically than they otherwise would. In other words, simply knowing how much power they are using incentivizes them to use less.
The exact same phenomenon works with home power. If you are able to constantly see how much power your house appliances are using — and in case you have an easy way to control this power use — it’s easy to use a lot less power. And energy monitoring systems can pay for themselves in less than a year if you use them. The annual savings in electricity bills tends to be much greater than the cost of the merchandise.
MeterPlug – $59.95
One of the newest energy monitoring methods, and looking are the simplest to set up and use, is MeterPlug, a crowd-sourced Kickstarter project which has far exceeded its fundraising goals. The people behind the project expect to begin shipping the unit in April 2013.
You plug any lamp or appliance into a MeterPlug — you use one MeterPlug per apparatus. It then sends details about both electrical consumption and the price of the ingestion to your iPhone or Android phone. It knows the price of your electricity because the cellular app references a database of power costs in different specific regions in numerous nations.
MeterPlug also does a magic trick: You can set it to turn off appliances which are using electricity whilst not being utilized, which can be a frequent issue. The manufacturers claim that a game console such as an Xbox 360 can cost you $220 per year from electricity use while the unit is not being used. If that’s true, and you have a game console, then the MeterPlug could pay for itself in a couple of months of use.
You can even have it automatically turn off or on based on whether you are nearby. And you also are able to cut power by using the app on your mobile phone. Just turn off apparatus manually from the app or schedule when they move off or on.
You’ll be able to monitor and control many devices at the exact same time on your app. Or you could plug a power strip to some MeterPlug and command everything plugged into that power strip.
TED 5000-C Electricity Monitor – $239.95
TED stands for Your Electricity Detective. It comes with two current transformers that clamp around incoming power lines, plus a wireless transmitter that relays information to applications for analysis. The system provides several options for control and monitoring. By way of instance, you can use something known as the TED Advisor, which lets you set various parameters to be notified about. You can keep an eye on a running quote about what your bill will be.
An optional wireless mobile display can alert you to “phantom loads” as well as track the power usage of the various electrical appliances and gadgets in your house. Third-party software allows you to track electrical use with a PC, tablet computer or telephone, encouraging iOS, Android and Blackberry mobile devices as well as browser plug-ins for controlling and monitoring using an internet browser.
Actual use and price estimates are updated every 10 minutes, if you care to look at that frequently. And on top of that, TED lets you tweak and refine your power use to save a lot of cash.
GE Nucleus Home Manager
GE provides something known as the Nucleus home manager, which can be a device that connects to a smart meter and lets you control and manage house power use. (Note that an AMI Zigbee Smart Energy meter is required. Ask your electricity supplier if it supports this.)
The system can feed real time monitoring and control to a special PC application or iPhone app. It lets you do your home energy audits and check how fixing the thermostat or running appliances at several times of day can save money and electricity.
Should you use a separate GE smart thermostat, you can even program heating and cooling to take place at particular times of day — for instance, turning the heat down until a half hour before getting up in the morning.
Nucleus house products are sold solely by local utilities, and costs change.
These are three very different options for controlling and monitoring home power use. The important issue is that you find the solution that suits you best which lets you determine how much power you use — and how much you can save by making small adjustments in how and when you use dwelling appliances and gadgets.