Have you ever hooked a pedometer to your waistband and monitored your daily steps? Some people do it out of curiosity. Others might do it because a doctor recommend they see how much they are (or aren’t) moving around during the day. Whatever the reason, how close do you think you could come to accurately guessing your daily mileage? More than likely the number of steps you take would surprise you.
The same likely holds true with your home’s energy consumption. Sure, you can probably guess within a couple of dollars, depending on the time of year, how much your monthly electric bill is going to be. But, if you could take a closer look and see which devices or appliances that money was spent powering, and, as a result, take steps to curb or quell that usage, wouldn’t you? Take a look at the following types of energy monitoring devices – from simple to complex – and see which system works best for you.
Outlet Monitor: Outlet monitors are a great way to spot-check certain appliances or electronic devices. Monitors cost about $30 and serve as an intermediary between the appliance and the outlet, providing a reading of the amount of energy consumed, including customized monthly or annual costs. These are good for smaller homes, as the monitor can be periodically shared among a variety of the home’s electronic devices – from a single lamp to a 42-inch LCD TV – to provide regular updates.
Whole House Monitoring: These systems are much more complex, but also offer greater monitoring capabilities (obviously). Current transformers monitor incoming power levels as they enter the home at the main circuit breaker. These transformers then monitor and log the home’s energy throughout the day and night. Depending on the monitoring configuration, systems can be designed and installed to monitor individual circuits or the entire system as a whole. Additional detail allows greater flexibility in efforts to lower your home’s energy bill by pinpointing areas that cause energy spikes or use during higher system loads.
There are even wireless devices that allow you to walk around your house with a wireless monitoring device that shows how much power you’re using in real time – shut off a light and watch the meter change in real time or see how your dishwasher affects your power draw. These monitoring devices can be found for as little as a $100.
Smart Homes – Smart homes take circuit-monitoring systems and add a control factor, allowing homeowners to systematically track energy use throughout the house and control and adjust appliance and device use as a result, creating an optimized system. Many smart home systems feature an integrated control panel that provides the ability to turn lights, televisions and other electronic devices on and off remotely, maximizing efficiency. There are even apps available that allow you to control your lights and other electronic devices from your smart phone. For the serious gadget hound, or control freak, this is the way to go.
What are you doing to monitor energy use in your home? Tell us in the comment section below.