PlotWatt: Energy Use Per Appliance from Electricity Monitor Data
Whole house monitors are pretty cool, but measuring everything in detail is the holy grail of monitoring for some people. We sell something close -- eMonitor measures electricity on each circuit separately. Customers who have bought eMonitor from us have regularly expressed how satisfied they are with the product, and a lot of comments are about their surprises.
I talk to a lot of folks who want eMonitor but say “I’ll just get the 12-circuit model and measure the big things, like AC and Dryer”. It’s hard for me to not sound like a sales person when I work to convince them that it’s worth the extra expense of covering most, if not all of your circuits.
No, I Am Not Selling eMonitor
And maybe you’re thinking, hey, this is just an ad for eMonitor. But it’s not. (If you are interested see the link on the right :-)
Over this summer, I have been beta testing a new product called PlotWatt. Instead of installing hardware on each circuit of your house, PlotWatt can use the data from networked energy monitors, such as the TED 5000, or Wattvision and figure out what is turned on and using energy based on the patterns it learns over time.
Using Patterns To Identify Which Appliances Are Using Electricity, and How Much
Here’s a pattern that is pretty easy to see in my house using my Google PowerMeter chart. We were away the week before labor day, so you can easily see two things: 1) with nothing “on” we use about 275 Watts, and 2) every so often something comes on and uses about another 120 watts. There are some other patterns there, too.
And here’s what PlotWatt knows. It figures out about the Always On (that’s easy), and has figured out that the second item is our refrigerator. And PlotWatt knows how much each costs, so you can compare. Looks like I need to do another sweep of the house to see what each of those “Always On” things are, and why they need even more juice than my fridge!
It's Much Harder To See What's Really Happening When Not On Vacation
We came back late Saturday and I ran our first load of laundry just after midnight, and we did another load on Sunday. You can still just see the patterns of the fridge cycling, but it sure looks like that washer and dryer are the culprits, doesn’t it?
And this is where products like PlotWatt (and eMonitor) shine. PlotWatt clearly shows that the washer and dryer use less for two loads as the fridge does over a day.
Surprise! We only do about 4 loads in the dryer a week, but the fridge is on all the time. The other half of what we use electricity for is the “other” stuff -- TV, lights and so on. We expect future versions of PlotWatt to break out "Other" into separate uses.
By separating out the various appliances I can make some decisions. At about $0.60/day, the fridge costs $219 per year to run. A new Energy Star rated fridge will cost about $67 per year to run.
PlotWatt can’t have all the detail that products like eMonitor do, but as their pattern recognition gets better (with hints from users, and refinements) that’s a pretty cool service.
If you have a TED 5000 or Wattvision now and would like to join the beta test, please use this form and we'll send you the info you need-- the PlotWatt folks have a special sign-up code for us which they say will expedite acceptance into the Beta test. Click here to get started!