Monday, November 14, 2011

Electricity Monitor - How to Keep Track and Save

I talk here on Saving Green a lot about how to save electricity (and power in general for that matter). Most of this stuff I talk about is ideas on ways to change your routines and habits in a way that would reduce you usage. This however is a way to track how you are doing and potentially change your usage based on solid stats that relate specifically to you and your home.

I'm talking about an electricity monitor, which is a little gizmo that you plug into your wall and then plug something into it. It will then tell you how much power you are using for that item. The key with these is they show you absolutely how much power you are using for each item you use. So you might not think your TV and all the electronics that go with it are really using that much electricity but when you put your power strip into it you are likely going to be surprised. Might make you think twice about leaving everything plugged in while you are aren't there. Or for that matter you might even watch less TV!

There are many makes of these types of devices these days but one of the first and still most popular is called the Kill A Watt. The idea is that if you know for sure how much each appliance is using for power you can find the really big drawers of power and avoid them. Or in some cases you might even want to get rid of them and replace with new more efficient options. Cost is always a factor but if you find that you are using so much more power then you would with a new one, then sometimes a new appliance will pay for itself in the first year! These are the kind of decisions a Kill A Watt will help you discover and make.

The other effect one of these electricity monitors will have it similar to that of folks who wear a pedometer. They say that people who wear a pedometer that keeps track of how far you walk, tend to walk more in a day, simply because they are conscious of how far they are walking. So they do better simply because they are now keeping track of it.

The next cool step in all this electricity monitoring is going to be down the line when all the appliances we have, have their own IP address. Then we could have an app on our phone that would show how much each item is using, in real time and over time. Once you have real time easy to access feed back that's when you'll see something that really has the power to change the way we use electricity.

Even further down the line is going to be smart appliances that actually talk to the power grid. So in the summer time if it's really hot out and the power grid is getting maxed out, then the grid can talk to your appliances to save power for a while until the load dips and can return to normal. For example you might be running your dryer and the grid is maxed out. The grid will talk to your dryer and tell it to keep running but turn off the heat for a while. If it does this for many houses in the area it can get through the tough stretch and then turn the heat back on. Impressive right? Then next piece of this is when a power plant is maxed out and an auxiliary plant will have to come on line. Sometimes there isn't anything you can do to avoid this. However it is most wasteful when the auxiliary plant is just barely needed. Again the same theory could be put in place. Turn off items in households that aren't mission critical at the moment and get through the surge and avoid having to do anything with the auxiliary plant at all! Now that is Green!


While doing a little research about electricity monitoring I came across this little gem! It is similar in theory to the Kill A Watt but it monitors the power your whole house is using, IN REAL TIME! It looks like you don't need any special electrician skills. Just basic clips at your power box that anyone can clip on. Then it transmits to a base station you can keep in a convenient location. I am definitely getting one of these babys!!!

No comments: