Home Energy Monitoring Strategy

The following information on home energy monitoring appeared as the first section in our free energy conservation guide

If you want to start learning how to save energy, it's a great place to start. Itʼs much easier to stick with any program when you have goals, and the only way to ensure you are reaching those goals is to track your progress. Monitoring your energy consumption is not as hard as you may think. By monitoring your energy it will better help you understand how and when you use it. This will help you determine the most productive steps to reducing your consumption. There are several different ways you can monitor your energy consumption and they vary in complexity and time spent by you. Keep in mind, the more complex the method, the more informative the data will probably be. You may also need to employ several of the methods below to get a good understanding of your consumption:

  1. Save your energy bill each month and record it on paper or on a computer spreadsheet. Bigger utilities enable you to sign up with a username and password and view your consumption history on their webpage. Print off the records and post them somewhere everyone in your home can see.
  2. Read the electric meter on the outside of your home each day and record the values on a paper or on a computer spreadsheet. This will help you understand how temperature fluctuations impact your energy consumption. You can see our blog on your cityʼs temperature history if you would like to chart your energy consumption along side daily temperature data.
  3. Get an appliance level electricity monitor that shows you how much energy each appliance consume. These plug in a wall outlet and are almost always for 110-V appliances, so you may have trouble seeing how much your electric dryer or central AC unit consumes (they are usually 220-V loads), but an appliance level energy monitor can help you see how the electronic devices you use every day use energy. Examples of these are the Kill-A-Watt and the Belkin Conserve Insight Energy Cost Monitor.
  4. Install a whole-home electricity monitor that shows you how much electricity your entire home is consuming in real time. This is like the utility meter on the outside of your home, but usually has a display that shows people in the home how much they are consuming. These monitors either attach to your meter and “read” the meter, or they install in your electrical panel using current transformers. The TED 5000 is an example that installs in your electrical panel, and the PowerCost Monitor reads your meter.
  5. Install a web-enabled whole-home energy monitor. This is a whole-home energy monitor that can interface with an internet browser. This enables you to save data in a spreadsheet and do some very detailed analysis. If you really want to analyze your electricity consumption, this is the best method.

If your utility has plans to install a smart meter, then chances are you may not need to install a whole-home energy monitor yourself, depending on how much access your utility gives you to the data. No matter which method you choose, monitoring your energy will help you see how you are using it, and will enable you to see how your conservation actions are improving your bill. If you have children, itʼs a great way to get them involved, help them understand graphs and charts, and to help them learn how energy conservation works.

Related Mapawatt Posts:

How to begin tracking energy consumption

Real Time Energy Monitors

List of Energy Monitors

The Next Phase of Home Energy Monitoring

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In CA we have 4,4 million Smart meters actually implemented - mine was installed April I am waiting to hear what the rate payer registration and use of My Energy application from PG&E is. I am refraining from guessing, but judging by the response to my call yesterday to their media group, and the TV advertising they are running - it is low! In summary though - the interval is one entry per hour - made available the following day. Despite my best thinking, I can not see how I might use the data presented (not allowed to read the Smart Meter raw data - it would be like hacking their billing system) to monitor anything in our apartment at a level that would tell me what to change. I am all for looking at a graph and realizing I need to save. But I am not sure how these hourly graphs, practically help compared to the end of month bill. They do not show what is using the electricity, one hour is too big an interval to know what was the issue - and if it is as obvious as the dish washer - I am not sure that trying to map when I used the dish washer yesterday vs, the smart meter data - is helpful. Why not read up on the web how much energy a dish washer uses - and change your behavior? And if they ever get the data presented through a web API on the real time hour for the whole house - how would this help a smart Thermostat perform? Finally - people have said that the Smart Meters will help the Utility know how much electricity is being drawn by the grid - again I say NO - the use of the grid is already known in real time, second by second, sub station by sub station, street by street - has to be in order for them to keep the voltage regulated. For those who need to monitor, I suspect the posting we both have - Google 'home energy monitoring' - brings up the various solutions in an unbiased way - and pick then one that works for you - and do not forget - you do not need to measure it, to know that it is better turned off when not being used!
Alex, I agree that it's a travesty that the meters themselves don't provide better data. It really ticks me off. :( I agree with the kill-a-watt strategy - it's really cheap, and finding your always-on loads helps a lot - and every 10W of always-on you can eliminate saves 7kWh/month. I do have a finegrained whole-house monitor, but right now what I usually look at is my daily minimum, i.e. my base, always-on load. Reducing that seems like the simplest path to savings. BTW, whose graph is that above? 3,000kWh in a month is a lot! I did a few posts on my energy/water monitoring over time, starting at
Thanks for posting this! I'm trying to find information on <a href="" rel="nofollow">Energy Monitors </a> and this has definitely helped me in this process.

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