Whether you are monitoring your power usage in order to reduce your carbon footprint, or you just want to lessen your electric bill, your efforts are getting easier each year. That is because you can now monitor actual usage via your smartphone, Wi-Fi equipment, or applications. This puts your energy use in the palm of your hand. Just like created a budget, monitoring power usage requires a look into your spending habits. Check out these devices if you want to have real-time access to knowledge about your power use.
5 Ways to Monitor Your Power Usage
Utility Department Website
If you don’t have smart meters yet (some municipalities are a bit behind the times), then your website will only give you average electricity use rates on a monthly basis or however often your meter is read. If you do have smart meters, then it is likely that your utility department has a snazzy website that will give you quite a bit of information. This includes information about energy use and details about days and times when you are using a lot of energy.
The upside to this technology is that it is included in your normal utility bill. You are paying for it whether you use it or not. The downside is that, despite the increase in detail compared to old-school meters, this will not give you detail about what breakers or outlets are costing you the most amount of money. Your teenager may have installed new computer hardware that is secretly sapping your money. However, you won’t be able to tell where the increase is coming from.
One item that will tell you exactly how much energy it is using is a smart plug or smart outlet. You will get to remotely control these plugs with voice or smartphone commands. You can also use the application that came with the device to see how much energy you are consuming with whatever you plugged into it. While this can be quite handy, it may not be optimum when you try to compare it with other items in the home unless you are planning on installing these smart outlets everywhere.
Home Energy Monitoring System
A home energy monitor typically connects to your breaker panel (so you need an electrician to install it) and lets you know exactly how you are using energy. Newer models will prompt you via the company’s application when it senses that something has been turned on. It then learns to detect your appliances. This means that you can monitor how much power each breaker is providing, but you can also monitor individual appliances. It takes a little time for it to learn everything, but it is quite effective in providing a clear view of where you are spending most of your energy.
Smart Breaker Panels
Similar to home energy monitoring systems but on a larger scale, there are now actual breaker panels that have smart features, so you can use your smartphone to monitor energy use without the addition of an external device. It will tell you why a circuit tripped, and it allows you to turn off circuits remotely. This may not be a great advantage, but it could come in handy if you left town and forgot to turn off the coffee pot. Smart breaker panels are the latest in greatest in home energy monitoring. They are also surprising inexpensive.
A learning thermostat isn’t exactly a home energy monitor. We had to list it here because it does help control energy usage. Summer heat and air conditioning is a constant reminder that the electric bill will be higher than average. This is especially true with the record temperatures we are supposed to get this summer. The air conditioning is probably going to be on for a bit longer. Still, you can lessen the use of your heater or air conditioner with a learning thermostat.
Learning thermostats learn your routines, and they adjust accordingly. When nobody is home, there’s no reason to keep the air conditioning on as much. Turning it up a couple degrees can reduce the electric bill and the stress on the air conditioner itself. It takes a little while to learn your routines. They can also be programmed into the thermostat via the app. It’s a little creepy for a thermostat to learn what you want and produce optimal temperatures that fit your routines. It also sounds sort of great!
Monitoring Your Power Usage Just Got A Lot Easier
With all of these gadgetries and mobile apps making energy monitoring easy and inexpensive, there’s no reason not to do it. Make sure that if you are installing something that involves or is a breaker panel, it needs to be done by a licensed electrician. This is for safety and also to make sure it is done in a manner that is up to code.