Monitoring Intro

Every month the bill from the power company comes in the mail (or hopefully to your e-mail so you save on pollution). This bill is usually tersely reviewed, paid, and then the whole thought of energy consumption that existed for 30 seconds while the bill was paid is moved to the back burner (pun intended) for another 29 days. Or maybe you don’t forget about your energy consumption. Maybe you wonder how you can lower your bill, but aside from changing some light bulbs and lowering your AC, you don’t really know what to do.

Before you can lower consumption, you first have to know how much you’re consuming. As the saying goes: Knowledge is Power! The first step for anyone who wants to lower their electricity bill should be to actively monitor their power consumption. This way, they can see improvements in real time, and not have to wait for next month’s bill. It’s hard to undertake a meaningful energy savings program if you don’t know when or where you are using energy.

The real "power" of Energy Monitoring comes when it is done in conjunction with data visualization and logging. The old way to take control of your energy usage was go to the meter each day (or twice a day for better data), take recordings, put them in a spreadsheet, make some graphs, try to improve, and repeat (even I will call you a nerd if you actually took the time to do this).

Now, with relatively cheap electronics and software (a few hundred dollars), users have the capability to have all this done for them using some equipment and a computer. Some utilities offer this capability as an added service. Energy usage is recorded over days, months, or years and this data can be used to make educated decision on how to further reduce energy use.  If your lucky enough to already have a smart meter, you can let Google help you out with the data.

Imagine changing some incandescent light bulbs to CFLs on Sunday, then watching the graph of your usage decline over the week. Or what if you tried unplugging the beer fridge out in the garage, and watching (from any computer with an internet connection) the graph of your energy usage drop immediately (make sure to drink all the beer first! This is now possible, and necessary if you really want to take control of your energy usage.

Energy monitoring is a vital step for any anyone interested in saving energy and recording progress. Without it, you might as well be in the dark.....,

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Mark, So how much does your house use when everything else is off? In other words, what is your baseline (vampire consumption). It shouldnt be that much. When I had my TED plugged in and only my laptop on, I was at around .2 kW.
Following on to our previous conversation on this topic. The TED wont track usage for a device over a period of time unless it uses 1 kilowatt or more. That leaves out my refrigerators (how did you know I had a beer fridge in the garage?) So I purchased a Kill-a-watt and am waiting for it to arrive. After measuring everything obvious, (53 items) I had a baseline use that was almost 50% of total use. That baseline is the not so obvious. In fact I unplugged and turned off everything I could find and never did get to zero... Since then I remembered the garage door opener, DSL modem, unused chargers, the TED itself, sprinkler controller, and the thermostat. I especially want those 24 x 7s...

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