PowerHouse Dynamics eMonitor Progress Report: The Early Data Is In.

Last month we wrote about our first impressions of the PowerHouse Dynamics eMonitor, the world's first circuit-by-circuit home energy monitoring system (that we're now taking pre-orders for). About a month of use later, we now have enough data on our PowerHouse Dynamics online dashboard to highlight some of its features.  In short, we're very impressed. The eMonitor has a sleek, easily navigable dashboard and tons of well-organized information. The circuit-by-circuit detail has proven to be an extremely useful tool—even for us, a family that has been monitoring our whole-house electricity consumption for a while now. 

Below are some of our favorite screenshots from the online dashboard, plus commentary about how each feature has been useful or enlightening—or both:

One of the best examples of the intuitive, user-friendly eMonitor interface is this pie-chart that breaks down our home's energy consumption by circuit. We're able to easily identify the "hogs" (like the basement home office, where we occasionally run a space heater, and where our computers are nearly always on), and to compare different circuits. That's useful for the energy efficiency competition going on between our kids (My daughter is kicking butt).

We love this colorful visualization of our home's electricity consumption by circuit. In a standard energy monitoring dashboard, you would only see the top line of this graph, representing the electricity consumption of the whole house. If you can read the fine print at the top of the graph, though, you can see that it's interactive; dragging across an area horizontally will zoom, and checking the checkboxes on the left will hide or show circuits. 

The circuit-level monitoring capacity of the eMonitor can also reveal interesting trends on single appliances. The graph above shows its standard on/off cycle of our refrigerator, as well as a spike around dinner time when we're all digging through the fridge (and leaving the door open for too long).  This visualization helps us see the impact of even opening the refrigerator door—pretty standard behavior—and will make us more conscious of doing so.  Frankly, I'm not sure if the cycling that's occurring every hour and a half or so is good or bad, but now we have the data to figure it out. The graph also shows the electricity consumption of the appliance the day before, for comparison. In this case the fridge for these particular days, the comparison isn't too exciting, but it's a neat feature. Better, eMonitor told me that my teenager made a 10:30PM ice cream raid last night, which explained this morning's grogginess.

The eMonitor's Phantom Power is also incredibly enlightening.  We've known about the significant impact of phantom power (also known as vampire power, vampire energy, and phantom loads) for a long time now. But the visualization, and especially the projected yearly cost, really brings it into perspective. We'll try to cut back further by grabbing a couple extra BITS Smart Strips power strips and using them at the work stations in the home office that don't currently have them.

In yet another great breakdown of our home's energy consumption, this graph splits it up by cost. Yes, we're a little embarrassed about that 'basement outlets' circuit, which is my home office, but we console ourselves with the fact that on days I'm working for home, there's no energy used to commute to the office.

Even though the dashboard focuses on watts and dollars, it's neat to have this carbon footprint visualization. The homepage on the eMonitor dashboard also includes this super handy, very basic "Top Appliances/Circuits On Now" list. Fancy graphs are nice, sure, but sometimes the simplest view is the easiest to see.  In this screenshot, we see that Tucker is using 12 watts in his room... at 10:30 in the morning... while he's working on homework in the kitchen. Looks like someone left a light on (thankfully an energy efficient one.)

Mind you, this is just a small sampling of screenshots from the eMonitor.  The full experience is infinitely richer, and each new chart, graph or visualization that I find on the site is more enlightening than the last. Although we're excited to have a couple more months' data for month-over-month comparisons and the like, we're extremely pleased with what we've seen so far. For us, at least, we believe circuit-level monitoring will really pay off in the long run.

For more information on the eMonitor, including pricing, video and complete FAQ's, see the eMonitor product page.


With all of the new products and incentives, implementing renewable energy or energy efficiency is getting more and more complicated. I am thinking about installing a solar water system in my house and have had trouble navigating all of the tax credits. Here is a great article with some good resources for these problems as well as some simpler solutions to saving you money. http://thegreenertruth.com/2010/02/personal-renewable-energy/

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