Adventures in Home Energy Monitoring or “How I Became the Energy Enforcer”

September 18, 2009 at 12:45 pm 36 comments

a guest post by homecamper and Quest Software guy Joe Baguley.

It all started one drunken night a few years ago with my neighbours in the garden (as do most life-changing events I’m assured). It appeared that they were all paying an awful lot less for their electricity than me which I found confusing as we lived in similar houses.

Electrisave

After some investigation I discovered the Electrisave (since rebranded as the OWL). £45 later and I had fitted the clamp ammeter to my main feed into the house and was going round the house switching things on and off to see how much they cost. Hours of endless fun, no seriously!

I quickly worked out that my house idled at about 3.4p/hr unless the fridge/freezer was cycling when it hit 5.5p/hr. This small nugget alone dramatically changed household behaviour. Everyone was trained that as we went to sleep, or before we left the house, to check the meter. If it was more than 5.5p/hr then something was on that shouldn’t be and was switched on. Already my bills started to drop by about £10-£15/month.

Then one night I am sitting by the TV, with the meter in front of me (I became sadly obsessed) when it jumped up by 30p/hr to my amazement, something that I thought only the fridge or kettle could do for me, but neither was on. Some investigative work led me to the immersion heater (no gas water heating) and further playing showed me that the cams were worn on the mechanical timer and the thing was never turning off. One new electronic timer later and my bill dropped by a further £30/month and suddenly I was paying less than my neighbours. They were now borrowing my meter to wonder around their homes discovering savings.

Within less than 2 months the unit paid for itself.

Wattson

Ever on the lookout for new gadgets I discovered Wattson and purchased one of their first devices. This did much the same as my Electrisave, but this time allowed me to capture and graph the data using their rather cumbersome app. Now I had usage graphs and could track trends, associating activities with expense. Now I was really starting to annoy my family.

I played with that for a long time, now further rewiring both my study and TV ‘complex’ to ensure that I could switch as much off as possible ‘at the wall’ when I could, leaving only ‘essential services’ powered on 24/7 (Sky+, Cable Modem, NAS drive etc.)

The only problem with the Wattson was that though it glowed pretty colours, the display would show you your ‘estimated bill for the year’ based on current usage, so the thing fluctuated from £350-£4000 as stuff went on and off, but was to abstracted from reality to be useful to drive behaviour with the family compared to the cost/hour of the previous solution.

I was however generally happy with the Wattson, but felt that I needed more info…

GEO

So, along came an Eco show at the Earl’s Court and the discovery of Green Energy Options and their home monitoring plans. They included not only monitoring to an individual device level, but were also looking at my other big and untrackable expense – gas.

So, I begged to get on their beta trial, even though I was well outside their trial area (East Anglia) and through some stroke of luck I was accepted.

I opted for the top of the line unit, the Trio+ at £250 (discounted for the trial) because that was the one that gave me detailed reporting to a device level and included gas.

So a couple of weeks later 2 chaps showed up in my house, placed clamp ammeters about everywhere possible in my consumer unit (fuse box) and installed individual appliance monitors on everything I thought appropriate in the house (washing machine, tumble dryer, dishwasher, kettle, TV etc.)

The best piece of it all was that the data was all collected onto an EeePC running MySQL, Apache and their own Flash interface which is beautiful and well thought out. More importantly as it is a webserver I can view my house (and turn things on and off) from ‘anywhere’ after opening port 80 on my router and doing the redirect. Here are some sample screenshots:

The number of screens and ways you can view the data are fantastic.

The gas monitoring I am assured will be coming in the next couple of months, but for now the electricity detail is great. The fact it measures cost over time as opposed to one fixed point means you can learn a LOT:

  • I now know my dishwasher costs 16p/cycle, compared to my washing machine at 7p, and that running it on the thermonuclear remove the spot-welded lasagne from the dish mode only takes it to 17p. Best suggestion I have had yet is to get all plastic plates and cutlery and wash them in the washing machine. Instead we don’t put the dishwasher on part-full anymore.
  • My kettle was costing us near on 50p/week, whereas my new ‘on demand’ model costs us about 6p/week
  • The oven is no longer left on for 30-40 mins to ‘warm up’, neither is the kettle left for 20 mins to ‘warm up’. These things get hot very quickly nowadays.
  • Taking into account both the cost of food and energy used in cooking it, the chip shop is wallet friendly in some cases…
  • My ‘little 3kW pool heater’ we use in the summer for our 10’ pool costs about £9/day to run – kids now cope with it a little colder than 33C… ;-)
  • My 40” Sony LCD TV costs hardly anything to run (60-70p/week) – fabulous
  • The over 1500W of GU10 spotlights downstairs are killing us, and we are trying to find acceptable either CFL or LED replacements, none found yet but some are on their way to me this week to try.
  • Laptop power supplies left plugged in are a BAD thing.
  • My wife hates it when I am travelling and phone her up to complain about the amount of TV she has been watching instead of doing the housework… ;-)
  • My kids know that I can turn their TV off from anywhere in the world…

My next big step? – gas monitoring when they fit it. I will finally be able to answer the question this winter as to whether leaving the heating on all the time on a thermostat or turning it off at night and then reheating the house in the morning is best.

Footnote: What drove me to do all this was not only a fascination with tech, but more importantly a fascination with not wasting money. Not saving the planet – saving cash. In my experience cash beats morality every time… ;-)

About these ads

Entry filed under: blog. Tags: .

The Attick – HomeCamp Media Partners Useful links and news stories

36 Comments Add your own

  • 1. carpets and rugs fitting up Los angeles california  |  July 25, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    It’s a pity you don’t have a donate button! I’d without a
    doubt donate to this fantastic blog! I suppose for now
    i’ll settle ffor book-marking and adding your RSS feed to mmy Google account.
    I look forward to new updates annd will share this site with myy Facebook group.
    Chat soon!

    Reply
  • 2. free trial Chat lines  |  July 25, 2014 at 1:00 pm

    Day passes to the Wisconsin Athletic Club, located a block away, can be purchased for $10 a day.
    This Lebanewse restaurant is delicious and charming.
    A conservative approach embodying the Romantic periods styling and ideology, yet inn close quarters to traditionl sounding classical music.
    For a weekend of true romance, try the Flowsrs and Champagne break.
    There are many styles of French cooking. He/she mmay call you often and
    take a deep interest in your circle of friends and family.

    You can simple have great time watching the mosat romantic couples Chuck-Sarah on Chuck, or
    Brittany-Santana on Glee. Anyone from the couple on a budget too the money-is-no-object
    pair iss sure to find something appropriate ffor that special date.
    Dinners are a little pricey, but well wlrth it if you are trying to impress your date.
    You can also send gift hampers through midnight delivery service.
    I have not been to Nacional enough times tto try a smapling from eacxh of the
    twenty seven, butt the feew dishes I have tried have been both delicious and authentic with a little twist.

    When a person takes an interest in your hobbies and likes and dislikes, it
    iis a sure sign off attraction. Eventually authored by me in an attempt to answer
    my own questions in many subjects I give credit were due,
    which is why I askk that you do not remove myy reference sources, in case it igniyes an interest in somone else.
    Valid Friday, Sathrday and Sunday nights. I love doing romantic things for my wife.

    Top the night offf with a decadent brandy Alexander while you and
    your date feed each other spoonfuls off luscious crème brulee or sensual champagne fried strawberries.

    Extremely competitive, you will find, each couple in a
    sitcom competing against the other from other series,
    when the top romantic couples lineup is prepared. The gorgeous scenery of the
    mountains and the seductive sunsets will be an aphrodisiiac all on their own.
    That is no way to spend any romantic time away from home.

    Thhe styles of French cooking vary by region. There is a beauytiful garden on the esttate that a
    lot of people like to take tours of.

    But writing onne for yoour special someone can give you
    equal, if not more pleasure. Youu also hsve to deazl wigh awkward silences or endure
    the non-stop rant about company or boss. Jeremy: Yeah, the, the sock thhat I wore all day, playing footbal in, pouring sweat in, was shoved into my mouth and
    then was duct taped oer it! Denver, Colorado iss also a romantic city that is
    decorated on aall sides by wind blown prairies and thee majestic Rocky Mountains.
    Joseph’s major thoroughfares, diners may feel as if they’ve stepped back intro an old time saloon.

    Geja’s Cafe 340 West Armitage Chicago, Illinois 60614 773-281-9101 Geja’s Caafe is named after Prince
    Geja, a highly respected Moorish Prince. Downtown Milwaukee is
    a beautiful city, with architecture from the 1800’s.
    No matter what stage a couple is in their relationship,
    there is always room for love. Feeling luky as well as romantic?

    Peter: What for?

    Art in its turn is a mirror oof feelings and impressions, and of course it sometimes depends
    on and reflects the romantic feelings of an artist.
    Walls here are literally covered with St. Inside you and your wedding guests will bee welcomed by a lavish
    foyer, the cosy Barr Room, working fireplaces, ballrooms,
    a patio, and even a Bride’s Room which is a quiet room where the bride and herr attendants caan prepare for the wedding.
    Where was Sunday?

    Romsntic Bedroom Ideas The Dark Fantasy The
    dark fantasy makes for on of the best romantic bedroom ideas due tto itss sexiness annd it will especially appeal to those men who are
    not overly fond of anything pink and frilly. Abstract art combimes ith expose brick walls and rustic wooden tables to create a comfortable atmosphere imperative to a romantic restaurant.
    Byon himself experienced tthe event of being turned into a
    proto-bestseller. Book a room for two att a luxurious hotel!
    Now the estate has just over 100 acres of
    parkland, the rest has been turned nto thhe
    Wadsworth Falls State Park.

    Bacchus Nibbles 20817 North Quentin Road Lake Zurich,
    Illinois 60047 Chicago Northwest Bacchus Nibbles has a cozy and casual buut elegant atmosohere with affordable entrees.
    Flavor your romatic life with inexpensive and unique ways to make it spicy.
    Fondue with hott oil and meat got it’s beginnings oof the vineyards of
    Europe. Choose wwhat you like best or use them aall in succession,
    why not? This literary process mirrors the advancement of social changes throughout the century, and
    the slow but continuous emanciupation of love from patriarchal standards.

    This coiuld be your spouse or partner that you want
    tto sart a romantic conversation with, which obviously means that you are either
    in love, orr trying to ignite a spark with someone bby using an intimate
    situation to do so. These principles were believed to be
    ppart of the universe and mandated by reasn as opposed too being ordered or
    forced on people by kings or the church. Polidori had introduced in the story fragments from an autobiographical and revengeful novel
    called Glenarvon written by Caroline Lamb, an ex-lover of Byron. The stress should
    be given tto early planning to avoid last moment stress.
    Take a dip inn the azure waters or explore the beautiful surroundings.

    Thhe Astor Hotel 920 East Juneau Avenue Milwaukee, Wisconsn 53202 414-278-8660 The historic Astir Hotel
    has served as a prestigious hptel and rersidence since the 1920’s.
    That way you can pass the book back and form reading romantic poems to each
    other. Pier Park, with rids and the Ferris Wheel aare closed until March.
    To make things more interesting, find a theater that plays old-time classics.
    Try a new approach towards your romantic evenings and wwatch the glow on his/her face.

    Plan forr an overnight stay at any wekend getaway ppaces that have plenty of
    things in store for funn and relaxation. Usually people share their fondues in the
    communal pot. Sure, he dated a lot and even had his fair sare of flings but none of his relationships last aand all the womeen who sleep with him end up marrying the nedt
    guy they meet. It might not be at all important that you have
    to do tae part in some activities to make the weemend
    romantic and memorable. Nothikng spells romantic more quickly hen French cuisine, and Frenfh Cuisine
    is the focus of Cocotte.

    To ensure that Cam doesn’t end up marrying the next gguy she meets, Charlie does everything inn his power to
    ensure that they don’t sleep together. If your work or any business commitment does not permit you to be wityh your child onn his/her birthday, then too
    you can send a gift online to your child with the midnight gift delivery service.

    Beause of these romantic draws, many newlyweds just setting out on an exciting neew life together are choosing to spdnd a honeymoon in Krabi.
    In some gift hampers, a cute teddy bear is also added to make it
    more attractive. Michael 64 Grewen Bay Road Winnetka, Illinois 60093 847-441-3100 Nordth Shore Michael offers a
    casual, friendly dining atmosphere with friendly staff annd service.

    Ladies love this one. Romantic Christmas Gift Ideas for Newlyweds: Candles Candles are
    the perfect romantic Christmas gift. Introduction to Romanticism.
    Maybe youu always take her/him out? Talking about the events related to them aas stated in the gossip magazines or newspapers can form to be good romantic conversation starters.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed


Join our group

Google Groups
homecamp
Visit this group

RSS #homecamp on twitter

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

HomeCamp on Flickr

Viewing Externalities?

Externalities 3

Externalities 2

Externalities 1

Hosts of Homecamp2

More Photos

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: