Home Energy Monitors are Worth the Investment

Green Building

Home Energy Monitors are Worth the Investment

Back in October of 2009, I blogged about a promising new partnership between Google and The Energy Detective (or TED). At last, a homeowner could monitor their house’s energy consumption in real time using a laptop or mobile phone.

While it was hard to justify the $225 dollar investment to my wife, I convinced her that a TED 5000 would at least educate us about our energy use patterns, if not make us more conscientious about our personal energy consumption. Truth be told, it did both.

Reality did not sink in until I received last month’s electric bill. It rivaled a mortgage payment. Google PowerMeter data verified.

On a temperate spring day, we may use as little as 14 kilowatt-hours (kWh). Conversely, one cold winter day, we used about 115 kWh. Those were the daily extremes last year. So, imagine my surprise a few weeks ago when the PowerMeter data indicated that my house’s daily energy consumption was vastly surpassing last year’s daily record virtually everyday. At one point in December, my home used 200 kWh or more for three consecutive days!

It did not take long before I discovered that the compressor on my seven-year-old heat pump was shot due to a refrigerant leak (or three). As the LEED AP in me knows, R-22 refrigerant is phased out. So, yesterday I bought a new high-efficiency SEER 15 heat pump with a variable speed furnace.

Problem solved, right? The TED 5000 begged to differ. According to the PowerMeter data, my house was now using MORE energy with the new system than it was with the old, broken system. I called my HVAC system installer and sent him the Google PowerMeter data. We identified the problem in about 10 minutes and now my new system works great. Check out the past two days of data below:

If not for the TED 5000 and Google PowerMeter, I would have waisted several hundreds of dollars in system malfunctions and inefficiencies. If you own a house, an energy monitor is worth the investment.

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