Energy monitoring: Measure and save…

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As “you can’t manage what you don’t measure”, energy monitoring devices have a range of capabilities. The principle is that the electricity consumption in your home can either be measured on a continuous basis, or exception basis, if it is outside an expected range. This data can be transmitted using wi-fi, Bluetooth, ethernet or cell to a monitoring service or personal smartphone, tablet, laptop, desktop or smart home system.

The energy monitoring devices can be programmed to notify the property owner with an alarm or alert if consumption is something other than expected. Most of these devices do not have the capability of correcting the situation identified, although they may have the ability to interact with other smart home systems which do have that capability. An example of this might be identifying a power failure, for which the property owner is notified and the battery backup system immediately restores power.

Basic models only take a single measurement of the power consumed by your property, while others measure each circuit on your panel. Top-of-the-line models measure every appliance or device. Purpose of all of these is, whether you are at home or not, to notify you about unscheduled, deferrable, forgotten, unknown, or disastrous situations.

It could be as minor as identifying ghost power reduction opportunities of chargers left plugged in, cable boxes left on or timers not needed. Reminders of lights left on, fans left running or refrigerator door ajar will all save a few dollars each month.

With high on-peak power rates, further money can be saved by ensuring all non-essential devices are identified and a reminder sent to turn off or down during these periods. These actions can also be automated with more sophisticated systems.

Most importantly, a toaster left plugged in, electric stove element or oven left on, window or door left open, refrigerator, freezer, furnace or AC failure could result in much more dangerous or expensive results.

Identifying an appliance or light with particularly high or increasing consumption can identify when it is time to purchase a more energy-efficient model.

Some energy monitoring devices can be installed by the property owner to an electrical outlet. Others will recommend an electrician to connect to each circuit in your electrical panel. For older homes or new construction state-of-the-art panels are available which can be retrofitted or installed with monitoring technology built-in.

Many of these devices are compatible with Google Assistant and Alexa for a hands free experience.

The cost can range from less than $30 for a smart plug, around $100 for DIY installation to monitor a few circuits, to several hundred dollars for complete system in a large home. The payback can be immediate if the save was a freezer full of food where a malfunction, if undetected, would have spoiled.

Definitely food for thought!

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