Power Monitor and a Green Promise
Home Energy Monitoring Enables Troubleshooting to Assure that Residential Buildings Live Up to Green Promise
Increasing numbers of homeowners and homebuilders are incorporating energy efficiency features into new construction and remodels, with nearly 50,000 new green home projects registered as of March, 2011 according to the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).
Unfortunately, some homeowners are finding that it takes more than a green building to live up to expected energy savings because it can be difficult for consumers to effectively measure and compare energy costs. According to local contractor, Shawn Allen, president of EcoVentures NW, “Homeowners are equal partners in optimizing energy efficiency improvements, but without a real-time power monitor showing their energy use, many homeowners are not realizing the savings promoted by vendors and green building programs.
People install solar panels, extra insulation, premium windows, the latest lighting systems and Energy Star appliances only to be disappointed when the electric bill arrives and it is higher than expected.”
Many states and municipalities are considering legislation such as Oregon’s House Bill 3535 or San Francisco’s Energy Performance Ordinance that would require buildings to benchmark anticipated energy use. Non-profit organizations such as Energy Trust of Oregon and the California Center for Sustainable Energy aim to incentivize and educate utility customers about renewables and energy efficiency.
Meanwhile, the USGBC has formed alliances with local, regional and national organizations to establish recognized standards for rating the potential energy efficiency for residential and commercial construction. The National Association of Homebuilders has estimated that more than “50 percent of builders are focusing on green building issues.”
But EcoVentures Allen explains, “All of these efforts are a great start, but without factoring in the resident’s actual energy usage, many of them fall far short of expectations in the real world. Once these new homes are built or new technologies installed during a remodel, the homeowner needs to have a dashboard to monitor their real-time electric consumption – just like having a gas gauge on a car.”
What Allen and others are discovering is that homeowners who have installed a power monitor that shows how and where energy is used in real time can reduce their energy use by as much as 25 percent more than those who have no visibility to their energy use.
“When we install solar or other efficiency upgrades, we recommend EcoDog’s FIDO Home Energy Watchdog as part of any installation so that homeowners can see exactly where they are using and saving energy with room-by-room visibility. In fact, some of our customers install FIDO even before making any efficiency upgrades and find that they start cutting their energy use simply because they become aware of where they are wasting energy,” noted Allen.
With his FIDO Energy Monitor, Glenn Willard, an EcoVentures customer in Tumalo, OR was able to see that his solar “inverter’s been shutting off and my boiler — marketed as an energy-efficient model — was using a lot more power than the manufacturer claimed. It’s just surprising, things that you have in your house, you think they’re totally shut off but, according to the power monitor, they’re not. The system shows exactly where you can reduce your energy consumption.”
EcoDog’s FIDO Home Energy Watchdog is a hardware/software system that comprises an energy measuring module — installed at the breaker panel — that communicates through the home’s existing power lines with a module linked to a PC via USB. Since it’s installed at the breaker panel, the power monitor is able to display energy usage detail at the circuit level using included software on the PC as well as remotely via text or e-mail.
The software tracks energy consumption throughout the home and gives recommendations to the user on how to reduce electric costs based on consumption and the local utility billing structure. FIDO can also be used to monitor and coordinate residential alternative energy (solar, wind, generator, etc.) installations.
Article provided by Shawn Allen@ecoventuresnw.com
P.S. Ecoventures NW has recently changed their business name to Resource Conservation Technologies.
Thank you to Shawn for sharing this article, hope you all come back to detectenergy.com real soon, but I won’t leave the light on for you…