Every month or two, we look at our power bills, and wonder “How could we have used THAT much power?” The only information provided by that bill is the total usage.
What many households need is the ability to directly monitor their energy usage, and be able to track that usage over time. Having appliances and other devices that could track their own usage would be very helpful as well.
That’s where the eMonitor comes into the picture. The Powerhouse eMonitor plugs into your breaker panel, and monitors each individual circuit (for power use. It can track your power usage over time, and the user can configure alarms and warnings for individual circuits, or the house as a whole. In addition, it can monitor individual outlets as well with additional modules. The eMonitor connects to the Internet, allowing you access to your home data from anywhere, and can send you alerts when conditions you set are met or exceeded.
An interesting feature of the eMonitor system is its ability to not just monitor usage, but also to monitor production. In many places, utility companies are mandated that they have to buy excess power from home-based power generation, including solar and wind setups. The eMonitor allows you to record how much power flows back to the utilities, and can help you ensure that you get the proper credit from them.
Future plans for the eMonitor include remote control options for thermostats, lights, and appliances, and the ability to monitor fuel oil and natural gas consumption.
All of this data integrates with an application developed by Google, which provides an easy window to view all of this information.
At nearly $1000, the eMonitor is a costly addition to any home, but, to judge by the statistics thus far gathered, it could potentially pay for itself within 2-3 years of purchase. Being able to see your power consumption, and track it historically, puts you in a very good position to modify your behavior. Information is power. Estimates of savings from using this system vary between 5% and 20%, depending on location and current power use.
Some utilities across North America are in the process of providing a different solution to homeowners to track their power consumption. While smart meters do not have the capability of tracking individual circuits or plugs, they do come included with the electricity service. Smart meters track usage, and provide a history, minute by minute. Even that small amount of extra information would allow a homeowner to make some informed decisions about power use and how to possibly control it.
Utilities are faced with the necessity of adding additional generating capacity to meet increasing demands and to replace old power plants. While we can hope that these utilities will make responsible decisions about power, we have a responsibility as well, to reduce our power consumption and conserve the limited resource of our green Earth.