At this point, you're beyond Energy Noob status and have taken the first steps for saving energy in your home. You've changed light bulbs and started programming your thermostat. You may have even started monitoring your energy consumption to learn where you are using energy and to track your progress. Now that you have started taking some energy saving measures, you've probably gotten familiar with the kilowatt-hour, or kWh. For an in depth look at the kWh, check out our education post "What is a kWh". In short, this unit of energy is a combination of how much power something uses (Watt) and for how long (time, in hours). Below are some different methods used to monitor energy consumption in increasing levels of interaction (taken from our Education post on "How to monitor your home's energy consumption":
1.) Save your energy bill each month and record it on paper or on a computer spreadsheet. Bigger utilities enable you to sign up with a username and password and view your consumption history on their webpage. Print off the records and post them somewhere everyone in your home can see.
2.) Read the electric meter on the outside of your home each day and record the values on a paper or on a computer spreadsheet. This will help you understand how temperature fluctuations impact your energy consumption. You can see our blog on your cityʼs temperature history if you would like to chart your energy consumption along side daily temperature data. If you have a smart meter this task is much easier, and you can even see if your utility is taking part in the Green Button initiative to make it even easier for you to access your energy data.
3.) Get an appliance level electricity monitor that shows you how much energy each appliance consume. These plug in a wall outlet and are almost always for 110-V appliances, so you may have trouble seeing how much your electric dryer or central AC unit consumes (they are usually 220-V loads), but an appliance level energy monitor can help you see how the electronic devices you use every day use energy. Examples of these are the Kill-A-Watt and the Belkin Conserve Insight Energy Cost Monitor.
4.) Install a whole-home electricity monitor that shows you how much electricity your entire home is consuming in real time. This is like the utility meter on the outside of your home, but usually has a display that shows people in the home how much they are consuming. These monitors either attach to your meter and “read” the meter, or they install in your electrical panel using current transformers. The TED 5000 is an example that installs in your electrical panel, and the PowerCost Monitor reads your meter.
Now that you're actively monitoring energy consumption, you're going to need to take the biggest step to reducing consumption, and that's actively programming your thermostat. Heating and Cooling your home make up your biggest energy loads and aside from buying a more efficient air-source or geothermal heat pump, engaging with your programmable thermostat is the best way to prevent your HVAC system from running overtime. Check out our blog post on air conditioner power consumption for a calculator that helps you understand how much energy your AC system uses in your climate zone.
Chances are you've programmed your thermostat before, but how often do you update it and adjust the settings? One of the easiest ways to stay on top of your thermostat settings is be getting a WiFi Programmable Thermostat. With a WiFi programmable thermostat, you can program your thermostat over the internet. So if you are away on vacation and forgot to tell your thermostat that, you can adjust it from your smart phone or once you get to the computer at your destination. View our list of WiFi programmable thermostats. You can also click on the images below to see more info on each WiFi programmable thermostat.