Issue #101, May 2010
Table of Contents:
Home Energy Monitors
Know Your Energy Usage
Ten Energy Saving Tips
Forward a Copy
allow me to introduce myself.
My name is Howard Holmes and I am the author of Home-Energy-Metering.com
and the Meter Messenger
e-zine. The first phase of our new web site on residential energy
monitoring has been completed. The second phase launches with this
first issue of the Meter
Here are a few paragraphs about how we got to where we are today...
from a background in industrial metering I saw the emerging residential
metering market as being somewhat fragmented. Technology from
commercial and industrial market was beginning to trickle down into the
residential sector. Price points were improving, however, real product
availability proved to
be limited as many items were, and still are, in the product
I searched for a home energy monitor system for my own residence in the
Fall of 2009 I found inventories of the more popular systems to be
critically low. This shortage dragged through the
2009 holiday season which hurt some manufacturers. Many had
little or no product to sell at a time of typically high demand as
energy monitors do make great gadget gifts.
Given these fragmented market
conditions, coupled with the fact that my industrial metering work was
in a lull due to the recession, I decided to embark on a web site
project entitled Home-Energy-Metering.com.
The goal was to create an information source where visitors
could get straight, unbiased information about residential
energy metering, power
quality and have a tool
for analyzing power use in their home.
In addition to being an information source, visitors can use the site
as a product portal to compare technical details and purchase plug-in
meters, special power
meter readers and home
energy monitor systems from qualified suppliers.
Many products have links to source from different suppliers so visitors
can easily shop for the best deal without having to peruse the Web.
There are still a few purchasing links to be added.
currently working directly with those manufacturers to co-ordinate
updates at their sites with ours.
Where are we going with this project? As mentioned, the first
phase has been completed. The Meter
marks the beginning of the second phase as we begin to reach out to our
visitors. Site traffic doubled in March and quadrupled in
so we feel that we're on to something here.
continue to expand into the area of managing electrical load by showing
you how to deploy energy saving techniques with home
energy monitors. As electric rates continue
to rise, alternative energy becomes more attractive. We'll
expand that section of the site as practical, cost effective products
and ideas emerge.
If you have a particular area
of interest as it relates to home energy metering let
us know, If there is enough interest we'll expand
the site in that direction, as well.
on our web site traffic stats this page receives more visitors than any
other page on our site - even more than our home page.
This tells us that there is a lot of interest in these devices,
as there should be. Here are some of the reasons...
> Communications are IP based so power usage and cost can be
viewed from anywhere on your local network.
> Google Power Meter compatible units allow you to view home
energy use from anywhere on the Internet.
> Multiple channels allow for measurement of large
appliances in addition to whole house use at the main panel.
located in high traffic areas of the home increase energy conservation
awareness for the whole family.
The graphical user interfaces (GUI) for home energy
systems are very creative. We have just launched a
new page showing key screen comparisons.
to this high level of interest in home energy monitors we are looking
for additional products to feature on the site. If you have, or know of
someone who has developed a home energy monitor system that meets the
following criteria and would like to be featured on the site please contact
To be featured on Home
Energy Metering.com home energy monitors must:
1. Be commercially available in the United States and be designed for
single phase, 120/240 V. 60 Hz power.
2. Have installations we can contact to verify performance.
Have a complete system cost that is under $500 USD.
know there are additional energy monitoring products available in
Europe which we may include at some point in the future.
for now our focus remains with those products that serve the US and
Canada as that is where the broad majority of our visitors are from.
home energy monitor systems offer a calculation of the carbon foot
print you create with the kilowatt-hours you consume. It
most cases the calculation of carbon footprint is nothing
that an estimated ratio of 1.0 to 1.5 pounds of carbon
produced for every kilowatt-hour used.
it may be
ecologically correct to speak in terms of carbon footprint,
accuracy of such a number is subject to a wide degree of variability.
And, here's why...
very difficult to determine what mix of generation sources produce the
actual power you use. Your
utility most likely has a combination of coal, natural gas turbines,
nuclear, hydro and alternative energy sources generating power at some
point throughout the day. In addition, they may buy wholesale
power off of the grid at any time to satisfy demand. This
purchased power can come from anyone of those aforementioned sources.
plants will normally carry the highest carbon footprint depending upon
the type of scrubbers their stacks employ. Other forms of fossil fuel
combustion used for generation would be next followed by natural gas.
power generation does not produce carbon
dioxide. However, it does produce spent fuel rods that must be placed
in long term quarantined storage as they will remain radioactive for
thousands of years.
wind and solar have no carbon
footprint but constitute only a small amount of the generation capacity
available. Alternative energy sources have greater generation
costs per kilowatt-hour due to the high capital investment required to build
hydro-electric dams, wind turbines and solar arrays.
accurately determine your carbon foot print you would need to know what
generation mix your utility is using as well as the mix of any power
sources they may purchase from the grid at a given point in time.
to say, we won't spend much time on carbon footprint measurement at Home-Energy-Metering.com or in the Meter
because as it is very difficult if not impossible to calculate
measurements will focus on kilowatts, kilowatt-hours and dollars.
If energy and dollars are saved, emissions will naturally
a similar path.
Your Energy Usage
embarking on any type of energy saving game plan it is important to
understand your current baseline. How much electricity does your home
use each month? Gas? Water? If you don't have a baseline, how
you tell if the changes you make are really saving you money?
with your last twelve months of utility bills. Why twelve
Because the single greatest energy load on a home is heating and
cooling. These loads vary significantly from month to month
need to look at a whole year of history to compare "apples to apples".
a simple spreadsheet listing consumption and cost by month.
Divide total cost by consumption to see what rate you paid
month. Energy charges, seasonal charges, peak rates, taxes
fuel cost surcharges are all boiled down into a single number which is
the real rate you paid each month.
Graph cost, consumption and
rate on a simple line or bar chart by month. These graphs and
data tables become your baseline for electric, gas and water usage.
If you have had usage circumstances that are out of the
over the past year make a note of it. Examples may include
remodeling, change out of a cental air system, a water leak or a
teenager moves out to go to college to name a few.
charts and tables. When did the highest peaks occur?
caused them? Is there anything you or your family can do to
changes in the way you use energy to reduce those peaks?
Memorize the rate your paying or keep a good idea of what it is in
the back of your mind if it fluctuates throughout the year.
Realize that a single 100 watt bulb burning for 10 hours
you that amount. If you have five 100 watt bulbs, say in a
recessed lighting array, know that the cost is reached in 2 hours, not
If you want to take the assessment of your home energy use to the next
level download our FREE Power
if you have not already done so. The Profiler is a
spreadsheet that analyzes electrical loads on a 40 circuit, 200 amp
panel down to the last outlet. Click
here for more information on how it works.
Ten Energy Saving
move into the warmer months here are a few energy saving tips to keep
Whole house fans are effective at cooling your home at night
the outside air temperature is lower than inside as they draw air
through the entire house and expel it out the attic vents.
If you are looking to replace an air conditioner this summer
for a SEER rating of 14 or above. If your current AC unit is
10 years old it may make good economic sense to replace it even though
it is still working. Older units with SEER ratings of 9 or 10 are much
less efficient than current models. This makes the most sense
southern states with higher rates.
Take advantage of
the increased cooling of air in motion. Ceiling fans can provide the
same level of cooling comfort with the thermostat set 3 to 4 degrees
higher. This can save energy at night especially when
are resting at a fixed location.
Spring? Plant shrubs and bushes to mature at a distance of
foot from the outside wall of the house. The dead air space
between the plants and the wall helps to insulate south walls from the
heat in summer and north walls from the cold in winter.
Locate shrubs and bushes next to, but don't let them
the outdoor condenser unit for air conditioners or heat pumps.
Better yet, locate these units on the north side of the house
the shade if you are still building. Up to 10% energy savings
be achieved by operating condenser units out of direct sunlight.
Set up outdoor flood lights with photocells and motion
If you leave a light on all night for security, be sure to
photocell shut it off at day break. Motion sensors turn other
outdoor lights off automatically after 4-5 minutes.
Compact flourescent bulbs use about one fourth of the energy
regular incandescents and can last up to ten times as long.
them where ever you can. Remember to get low-temp ballasts
outdoor installations when the temperature is below 40 deg. F.
If you heat a swimming pool, by all means use a solar cover.
The heat gain from the solar cover reduces the energy
requirement, reduces evaporation and extends the pool season in Spring
9. Drain a quart of water from your hot water
tank every three months to get rid of sediment that accumulates in the
tank. Procedures vary so check your hot water heater manual.
sediment forms scale on the heating element which reduces efficiency.
Use dimmers, motion sensors or occupancy sensors to shut off
lights when not in use. As good rule of thumb, incandescents
should be shut off whenever not in use and flourescents should be shut
off if you are going to be out of the room for more than 15 minutes.
If you found the Meter Messenger
helpful please consider forwarding this email to a friend that may be
interested in reducing his or her home energy costs. They can
subscribe to future issues directly at Home Energy
Metering.com if they wish.