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Author Topic: Energy usage monitoring  (Read 3868 times)

bkenobi

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Energy usage monitoring
« on: February 18, 2011, 11:12:37 PM »

I've searched the forum and found a couple interesting threads on the topic.  If there is already a thread that discusses things in depth, please point me that way.   ;D

I've moved into a new house a few months back.  We just got our second electricity bill and WOW!  In our last house we had natural gas heat and water heater.  This new property is entirely electric with no alternatives (currently anyway).  What I'm trying to do is determine what the electric usage is and what's eating the most power so I can plan for how to improve the bill.

I've considered a Kill-o-watt, but it requires a device that can be plugged into it (refrigerators, computer equipment, lamps, etc).  It will not help with large energy hogs though (stove, furnace, water heater, outdoor lighting).  I've seen TED and others mentioned, but they are apparently not compatible and expensive.  I am tempted to buy the B&D version of the BLI meter, but it's apparently only accurate to 100W and it doesn't support charting over time.  The price is right now that it's being clearanced though.

Is there a way to use X10 modules to read the current drawn at the panel?  I would be fine with just a single measurement for the whole house (I don't need things broken up by circuit).  I saw a thread where the water heater was monitored, but I'm not really clear on how that worked.

Tuicemen

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Re: Energy usage monitoring
« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2011, 07:17:18 AM »

I've searched the forum and found a couple interesting threads on the topic.  If there is already a thread that discusses things in depth, please point me that way.   ;D

  I saw a thread where the water heater was monitored, but I'm not really clear on how that worked.

A post in those threads most likely will yeild a faster reply.
This time of year your furnace is going to be the hog with hotwater being next.
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dave w

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Re: Energy usage monitoring
« Reply #2 on: February 19, 2011, 09:19:23 AM »


Is there a way to use X10 modules to read the current drawn at the panel?  I would be fine with just a single measurement for the whole house (I don't need things broken up by circuit).  I saw a thread where the water heater was monitored, but I'm not really clear on how that worked.

With X10 the best you can do is apply and disconnect power, which dosn't tell you much unless you want to do some major hacking.

The iMeter X10 program sounds interesting. You need to put a current transformer on your  major electrical appliances you want to monitor (water heater, electric furnace, heat pump/ air conditioner outside unit, dryer, etc.) the current transformers get connected to X10 PowerFlash units. When the major power consumer turns ON the Power Flash sends a HCUC address "ON" signal to Active Home Pro which then logs it's status. I haven't looked at iMeter X10, but I assume it allows you to input how much power the appliance uses when running and then uses the run time and kWh $ to calculate cost.
 
Do you have a heat pump with electric heat back up, or just straight electric heat?  If you have a new heat pump, find out at what outside temp the heat pump is being locked out. If it is high, like 30 degrees, you can knock it down much lower. I just bought a new system where the pump is never locked out, although I don't know how much the heat pump can do with outside temp below zero.

Tuiceman is correct about the electric furnace being the largest consumer of power and water heater second.

FWIW years ago we had a hot tub which stayed hot all the time. I found a 120V hour meter at a surplus shop and using a 220V to 120V transformer wired it across the heater. I kept a weekly log and calculated kWh each week. Cheaper than TED but more work.
« Last Edit: February 19, 2011, 09:53:00 AM by dave w »
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bkenobi

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Re: Energy usage monitoring
« Reply #3 on: February 19, 2011, 08:47:11 PM »

Thanks for the input!  I have a straight electric furnace but all the hookups for an electric heat pump.

My assumption has been (and still is) that the main energy user is the furnace followed by water heater, dish washer, washer, and dryer.  The water heater, washer, and dryer are all new and we will be replacing the dish washer in the next couple of months.  My main concern was that we had an appliance that was eating energy as it was failing (e.g., the beer fridge in the garage is noisy).

I talked to the electrical guy at a couple of our local hardware stores and they had the same suggestions.  They also though that insulation could be a big thing, but the furnace was by far the #1 energy user in the winter.  I may still look into iMeter since it's pretty cool, but it doesn't do exactly what I thought it did initially.

dave w

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Re: Energy usage monitoring
« Reply #4 on: February 20, 2011, 05:59:20 PM »


My assumption has been (and still is) that the main energy user is the furnace followed by water heater, dish washer, washer, and dryer. 

Yes I think you are correct but my *guess* would be the following order: electric furnace, water heater, dryer, dish washer, washer.

BTW stove is a big energy item, especially the oven, especially especially if a self cleaning oven. Our meter spins like a top when wife puts ours in cleaning cycle. Fortunately we use the microwave more than the big oven.
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