I first ventured down the path of energy monitoring in the Winter of 2006. I was living in a 2 bedroom apartment with a friend and our electricity bills were outrageous! For instance, the kWh usage from 12/06-2/07 compared to the same months in '08-09 in my new and bigger town-home (I moved) is as follows:
- Dec. '06 - 1236 kWh compared to Dec. '08 - 545 kWh
- Jan. '07 - 1472 kWh compared to Jan. '09 - 501 kWh
- Feb. '07 - 1629 kWh compared to Feb. '09 - 396
I will warn you that this isn't an apples-to-apples comparison. My apartment was all electric, while my town-home is natural gas for water heating, space heating and cooking. But even when I add my natural gas bill to my current electric bill, we still don't even COME CLOSE to how much energy that apartment was consuming!
- side note: again, while the comparison isn't a direct one, you can see how valuable it is to be able to compare living spaces in the same region in order to gauge if you are using a high/low amount of energy.
So back then, I had to try and figure out where my power was being used so I could tell the apartment complex that my bill was wrong. Maybe I could prove that they were billing me for a different meter?
Enter the Kill-A-Watt!
kill-A-watt meter from P3 international
Back then, I wasn't aware of a whole house meter like the TED, but I had heard of the Kill-A-Watt. So I decided to purchase one for around $20 bucks. The Kill-A-Watt (KAW) is a handy little device that you plug in your home outlet, then plug an appliance into. The display on the KAW meter then tells you how much power it is consuming, and if you leave it plugged in, it will totalize the power consumed over time, to give you a kWh reading that you can translate to dollars and cents.
One of the problems with the KAW is that you can only monitor one (or multiple devices with the KAW strip) appliance at a time, but not your whole house. So I had to go around and plug the KAW into an outlet, then plug the appliance into it, then wait to see how much power was consumed. And I had to do this for every appliance (toaster, coffee maker, tv, computers, etc.) that I wanted to monitor. As you can imagine, this could be very time consuming!
Another problem is that the Kill-A-Watt is only rated for 120 V. My washer and dryer and electric heater were all 240 V, so I wasnt able to monitor some of the biggest energy loads!
So, in summary, the Kill-A-Watt is great for monitoring individual appliances to get a fundamental understanding of where and how you are using your energy, but if you are truly interested in monitoring your home as a system, you need a whole house monitor that measures the electricity coming into your breaker panel, like The Energy Detective.
In all actuality, you need BOTH! One to measure individual appliances so you know where your energy hogs are, and the other to measure your house as a system.
By implementing both of these technologies, you will be able to realize considerable energy savings!