Last week we covered FIDO whole home circuit level energy monitor by EcoDog in a post we borrow from George Musser's Scientific American blog Solar At Home (with his blessing). This week we're going to borrow another blog from another source (Energy Circle) on a different whole home circuit level energy monitor: eMonitor by PowerHouse Dynamics. These are some of the only whole home circuit level monitors that I know of (aside from Computerized Electricity Systems - which also allows you to control the electrical outlets) but I believe this is the way of the future!
I have a whole home electricity monitor, the TED 5000, and I really like it because it works with Google PowerMeter and gives me a nice overview. But I'm discovering that I need more. I am an energy nerd, so after living with the TED 5000 for over a year now, I know most of the areas I use energy. What the TED 5000 can't tell me is exactly how much electricity my AC unit uses in the summer, or if I left the porch light on again, or if the refrigerator is using a lot more electricity this month than it did last month. Well, that's not exactly true. It can approximate energy loads if you teach it which loads are which, but this is a long process and requires you to isolate loads as they come on while you walk around with your laptop. The TED 5000 is a whole home energy monitor, but it is not a true circuit level energy monitor.
What I want to do is be able to pick up my iPad before I go to bed, pull up my whole home circuit level energy monitoring app, and be able to see in a 2-second glance if I left any appliances or lights on downstairs. Luckily, the eMonitor has an energy monitoring app that does this!
But let's get to the good stuff. Below is the review written for Mapawatt by Energy Circle's CEO, Peter Troast.
eMonitor Product Review for MapaWatt
I am a firm believer in the empowering capability of energy monitoring, and its potential to help homeowners and families reduce their utility bills and their carbon footprint. Although, for full disclosure, we sell a variety of energy monitoring products on my company's website, www.energycircle.com, this isn't just a sales pitch, I promise: we use energy monitors in my family's house, and we're constantly learning from them. Since we began monitoring our electricity consumption about two years ago, our electrical bills have been cut by approximately 29%.
This, of course, can't be entirely attributed to the simple act of monitoring; but the insights we've gained from our energy monitors have been one of the major spurs that have driven us to change out our old lightbulbs for CFLs, cut back on vampire loads, upgrade to more energy efficient appliances, and make the small behavioral changes that add up to big savings.
Although we’re advocates of all monitoring devices, from simple plug-at-a-time devices like the Kill-a-Watt, to internet connected monitors that measure whole house, a relatively new product called the eMonitor from PowerHouse Dynamics really brings the energy monitoring game to a whole new level.
What distinguishes the eMonitor from most other electricity monitors is its ability to monitor individual circuits in addition to the whole house. The data it receives from each circuit is broadcast to a sleek web interface that opens up a whole world of insights that wouldn't be accessible with a simple whole-house monitor.
One of the best examples of the intuitive, user-friendly eMonitor interface is this pie-chart that breaks down our home's energy consumption by circuit. We're able to easily identify the "hogs" and to compare different circuits. That's useful for the energy efficiency competition going on between our kids (My daughter is kicking butt).
We love this colorful visualization of our home's electricity consumption by circuit. In a standard energy monitoring dashboard, you would only see the top line of this graph, representing the electricity consumption of the whole house. If you can read the fine print at the top of the graph, though, you can see that it's interactive; dragging across an area horizontally will zoom, and checking the checkboxes on the left will hide or show circuits.
The circuit-level monitoring capacity of the eMonitor can also reveal interesting trends on single appliances. The graph above shows its standard on/off cycle of our refrigerator, as well as a spike that represents the defrost cycle. This visualization also demonstrates that what mom yelled at you about--leaving the refrigerator door open--doesn’t really amount to much.
The graph also shows the electricity consumption of the appliance the day before, for comparison. In this case--the fridge for these particular days--the comparison isn't too exciting, but it's a neat feature.
The eMonitor's Phantom Power feature is also incredibly enlightening. We've known about the significant impact of phantom power (also known as vampire power, vampire energy, and phantom loads) for a long time now. But the visualization, and especially the projected yearly cost, really brings it into perspective.
The eMonitor comes in a variety of configurations, meant to accommodate the full spectrum of homes and electrical systems, and the price varies accordingly (anywhere from $689 to $1389, approximately). While this may seem high for some homeowners, it’s worth noting that commercial products of equivalent capability often cost up to ten times this amount. So while it may seem pricey, our personal view is that the granularity of data it provides is worth every penny.
Although there are a few other circuit-by-circuit monitors on the market, we've found the eMonitor to be the most affordable as well as the most user-friendly, and would highly recommend it to anyone looking to tackle their homes' electricity consumption in a big way.
Check out Energy Circle's eMonitor page if you are interested in more information and to purchase the unit. They also have a great write up on the eMonitor installation steps, pictures, and review and an eMonitor progress report.