From “learning” thermostats to energy saving smartphone apps, it has never been easier to monitor and control your home’s energy use. While we all love doing our part to help the environment, the real draw here is how these simple solutions will help you save money by keeping those monthly energy bills low. Here are just some of many easy home energy-monitoring tools that can help your home run as efficiently as possible.
With the dog days of summer fast approaching, many homeowners worry they won’t be able to keep their homes comfortable without their energy bills going through the roof. Luckily, innovations in smart thermostat technology can help you keep your house cool and refreshing without breaking the bank.
Nest Labs offers the Nest Learning Thermostat. This sleek, minimally designed wall thermostat can be adjusted manually in your home or wirelessly from any location through your computer or smartphone. Each time you adjust the thermostat, Nest learns about your temperature preferences and daily life. It then uses this information to help you keep your home at a consistently comfortable temperature while simultaneously saving money on energy costs. For example, it learns to automatically adjust the temperature when you’re away at work, asleep at night or when the weather unexpectedly changes.
Nowadays it seems like there is an app for everything, and home energy management is no exception. Among the many smartphone apps that monitor your home’s energy use is the highly rated Kill-Ur-Watts. It’s a free app that comprehensively monitors your home’s electric energy use by gathering data from your energy provider and relaying that information back to you through user-friendly, easy-to-understand graphs and charts.
Although this information has always been available to the inquisitive consumer through your energy provider, apps like Kill-Ur-Watts make it instantly accessible and easily digestible so you can actually put it to use. For example, it can help you identify what time of day it is cheapest to do your laundry or what appliances are getting neglected and should therefore be unplugged. These simple tips will not only improve your home’s efficiency but also cut down on your electric bill.
Similar smartphone energy management apps include PlotWatt, WattBuddy, and Bidgely.
Meter Sensors and Smart Meters
Unlike the smartphone energy monitoring apps, meter sensors and smart meters feed you information directly from your home’s existing energy meter instead of sending data from your energy provider. They monitor every aspect of your electric energy use and continuously send information back to you. This helps you learn exactly when and where your home uses the most energy so you can make informed decisions about how to better manage energy consumption and keep costs down.
Blue Line Innovations offers two different meter sensors. The PowerCost Monitor tracks the cost of running specific appliances and shows where power is being wasted, perhaps in electronics you thought were turned off overnight or while you are at work. The Blue Line Optical Sensor uses optical readers attached to your home meter to monitor your energy use comprehensively, and alert you to any problems that could reduce your system’s efficiency, such as clogged air filters.
Smart meters are only available through your utility company and make your home part of the “smart grid.” The smart meters connect homes and utility companies in a two-way information stream with the goal of optimizing energy efficiency for homeowners and utility companies alike. They allow the utility to read the meter remotely so they can then offer you “smart” pricing based what time of day energy is cheapest. Homeowners can also look online or use apps to assess their home energy usage and reduce bills on their own.
These are just a few home energy management products that can help you be a little kinder to the environment, not to mention your wallets, without sacrificing comfort or convenience in the process.
Chad D. Collins, Accredited Master Builder
An area native, NC Licensed General Contractor, National Association of Home Builders Master Certified Green ProfessionalTM, and Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist, Chad is one of less than 50 Accredited Master Builders in the state. He achieved this professional designations after years of experience and numerous hours of coursework via the NC Builder Institute. Chad has been an active member of the building industry since the early 1990’s. He joined the Home Builders Association (HBA) of Durham, Orange, and Chatham Counties in 2005. Chad was soon named HBA Recruiter of the Year and he subsequently chaired various HBA committees. Chad is a Licensed Home Inspector, as well as, a Licensed Lead Abatement professional.
In addition to industry awards in recognition of excellence in home building and remodeling, Collins Design-Build has twice been named Building Company of the Year via the HBA’s Triangle Sales and Marketing Council MAME (Major Achievements in Marketing Excellence) Awards. The company has also received a Best Green Built Home STARS Award from the NCHBA. Currently, Chad serves as 1st Vice President of the HBADOC, and recently completed one of Durham’s first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) residential projects. LEED is a green building certification program that recognizes best-in-class building strategies and practices. To receive LEED certification, projects must satisfy pre-requisites and earn points to achieve various levels of achievement.
In 2014 Chad was selected as the HBADOC 2014 Builder of the Year and recently honored at The International Builders Show in Las Vegas as the NAHB’s Certified Green Home Professional of the Year.
This post was written by Chad Collins