Friday, March 05, 2010

I got the power!

Google PowerMeter widget

Actually, we got the Google PowerMeter. K is a technical writer for Google and we're now the proud owners of a TED5000 and using PowerMeter.

There was a control period where we weren't seeing the data, but now that's passed we'll be able to use the PowerMeter to figure out more of our electrical usage. We haven't had data long enough to get much yet, but one thing is clear already: we should try to reduce our "always on" power. It's not super high, but well, it's always on, so it adds up. I was trying to think of everything that contributes to that:
  • thermostat
  • water heater thermostat
  • various clocks
  • DSL modem
  • router
  • microwave (clock)
  • TV
  • cordless phones
  • assorted wall warts
The TV is EnergyStar rated so hopefully doesn't draw much when off, but it's probably non-zero. The water heater is a gas-fired on demand heater which has circuitry to decide when it needs to come on. In any event, between the PowerMeter and our Kill-A-Watt we should be able to figure out what's using power and cut back some.

Installing the TED5000 was fairly simple, but it does require opening your electrical service panel and attaching clamps over the main feed wires. It was a little tricky to get it to fit and still get the panel closed, but not too bad. Google and TED recommend hiring an electrician for the hookup, but given I've run most of the circuits in the house, I felt comfortable doing it myself.

TED dashboard

I'll be posting more as I figure things out. Much of it should be applicable to your electrical usage, too.


Elin said...

After having an issue last month with our HVAC compressor and running the very power hungry coils (without knowing it), I wish we had access to this service. Our power bill was outrageous!! I'm thinking we can't use it yet, but my husband is looking into it.

Meredith said...

I like it! Had never heard of this before (and it's cheaper than last month's gas & electric bill)... I'll have to put it on my list.

Looking forward to seeing how it goes for you Gene!

meryl rose said...

That is SO COOL! I'll have to tell Chris about that one...

Unknown said...

very cool. I've been wondering if these meters could be used to measure a single circuit or set of circuits. I imagine a single circuit would be no problem - just clamp the ammeter around the single circuit wires instead of the mains. The purpose would be to measure the power to a rental unit that does not have a separate meter.

jake said...

Very interesting, thanks for posting Gene. About a year ago I monitored my power usage with Microsofts hOhm website. Just a few months worth of data gave me some juicy things to think about. Older appliances like the fridge take up lots of energy. My sister just purchased a small brand new Kenmore fridge and I was shocked to see the sticker on the box. It said something like "This new fridge uses only $35 a year in electricity."

I was totally shocked. $35 a YEAR? It was cold in the freezer and cold in the fridge part too. Changing our appliances are the next big thing on our list probably. Within a year or two anyways.

If my main appliances only use $35 a year, then I can surely make the switch to a DIY solar set up which I have been researching a lot.

We dont have a toaster oven, we use mostly gas appliances (cept fridge). I also want to get rid of my desktop computer... although powerful and nice, I can get the same power nowadays in a laptop, which uses a lot less energy.


Unknown said...

@tl - I think it could be used that way, but I'm not 100% sure. One piece (the MTU) has leads that clamp around the mains, and other leads that go to circuit breakers in both phases. The other piece (the gateway) plugs into an outlet somewhere in the stuff you're measuring and connects to your router for you to access the data. The two pieces communicate over the electrical wires.