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Monitor your home’s electricity use

Monitor your home’s electricity use
| Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Whole house energy monitoring systems are a real opportunity to learn how your home uses electricity and to teach everyone in your family about what uses watts. Let’s take a look at these useful systems.

There are two primary ways in which whole house energy monitors get their data. The first is to have a sensor you mount on your electric meter. This route is typically not advisable because the sensors are hard to align, and Mother Nature can knock them out of alignment later down the road. The sensor can also hinder Tipmont’s efforts to manage the meter.

The second option uses current transducers (CTs) placed around the big wires that feed into your electric panel. The clips are a snap to install (pun intended) and are out of the way. These connect to a transmitter that sends the information to your system’s monitor. A caution here; if you are uncomfortable taking the cover off your electric panel, ask an electrician to handle this part for you.

After the transmitter is in place and sending data, you can program the monitor with a variety of information. Many systems will allow you to set up a couple of electric rates, the time, day and so forth. From there, the unit presents data in a predetermined format.

These systems help you learn how your home uses energy. Step one is to determine the base load of your home. Base load is a utility term that means the lowest power consumption possible with only essential items using electricity. The typical home today (three bedroom, two bath) should have a base load between 600 – 700 watts. This is your refrigerator, freezer, fans and other equipment. The best time to find this information is late at night when only you are awake, looking to find your base load.

Why is this useful? You want to start identifying how much different items in your home add to your electric use. Going below your base load means turning off something you probably shouldn’t. Above that indicates a discretionary use. Here is a fun test. Turn everything possible off to get to the base load. Now, start turning on appliances, lights and so forth. Note how much each uses. Over time, you can look at the display and know what’s running.

Use this data to educate your family. Kids won’t turn off their game console or television? Show them the monitor, have them turn their stuff off and let them see the difference. Then offer to deduct the cost from their allowance. Or, offer to split the savings. You choose what is right for your family.

Whole home monitoring systems are an effective way to control your energy use. Knowing the cost of each item helps you know the effect and cost of using something. The benefits will add up over time. Lower bills, fewer carbon emissions and lifelong lessons-come-habits for your kids. It is a beautiful combination!

Suggested websites for whole-house energy monitoring:

All of the sites listed below offer products that use current transducers (CTs).

  • Last modified: Friday, September 16, 2016
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