The Handyguys Podcast - Working Together on that Honey Do List Home Energy Savings Tool tests

Monitoring Your Power Consumption

by The Handyguys

in Audio Podcasts

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A review of the Powercost MonitorTM

The BoxA couple months ago, the Handyguys heard about a device that can tell you your current home power consumption and hourly cost for electricity.   The device is the Power Cost Monitor from Blue Line Innovations.   We contacted the company and got some units to try out.   Here is our review of these units, including the pros and cons of this interesting device..

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What is the Power Cost Monitor?

What is in the boxThe device consists of a transmitter that you connect to your electrical meter and a receiver that you place in your home.   The transmitter reads the power consumption from your meter and sends the data to the receiver.  The receiver displays current costs per hour for your electricity.   It also shows total kilowatts of power used.

How does it work?

You program the receiver with your local power company’s rate per Kilowatt hour (KWh).   This information can be found easily on most electrical bills.   You also have to enter in information about your type of meter.   The receiver then presents live data (it is actually delayed 15-30 seconds) about how much money you are paying per hour to for the power being consumed in your home.

The receiver gets its data from the transmitter which reads the power consumption from your electrical meter.

Why would you want it?

The Powercost Monitor is useful   because you can determine how much money is being burned from your electrical devices at any given time.   The monitor can also keep track of ongoing power consumption throughouth the month.   This information is helpful in the event that your power company charges you an increased rate when your Kilowatt hours passes a certain point (in our area, the increased rate kicks in at 1000 KWhs).   It is nice to have a live data feed of your power consumption because it reminds you to turn off lights make other changes to lower your power consumption.

How do you install it?

Installing the transmitterThe instructions that come with the monitor are helpful.   Attaching the transmitter to your meter is a piece of cake.   However, Brian did experience some problem with interruption to the wireless transmission.   Paul did not have any problems other then the fact that the display light did not work on his receiver (when he pushes the light button, the unit goes nuts with beeping as it continuously switches between 24 hr and 12 hr setting). Fortunately there is little use for the light feature anyway.

How you can save money using this tool

Finishing The installFirst, determine your baseline power usage.   This is the power that is generated with a minimum number of lights and appliances running.   Once the power consumption has leveled out, start turning on specific appliances.   When you see that number increase, you should investigate what is adding to your power costs.   It is a good time to identify power hungry appliances like your clothes dryer, the microwave, and the electric hot water heater.   Of course you can’t easily eliminate many of these items, but at least you have a sense of how much power they consume.

You can also turn on lights – particular chandeliers with multiple bulbs – to get a sense of how much power they consume.   You may want to switch to CFLs (more on that in a future episode)

Here are some calculations discovered by Paul.   These calculations can   be made without a powercost monitor but the monitor at least brought the issue to Paul’s attention:

  • Dining Room Chandelier costs around $.05/hr to run according to the powercost monitor.
    • This can be confirmed through simple math:
      • Cost per KWh on Paul’s electrical bill=$.1485
      • Chandelier uses 360w or about .36 KWh.
      • To run chandelier costs about $.053/hour to operate.
  • Microwave costs around $.24/hr to run.

Paul also discovered that you can save considerable coin using CFLs instead of incandescent bulbs.  More on that in a future show.

Final Review Summary of the Power Cost Monitor

Complete installPros:

  • Gives you live power consumption rate.
  • Provides outdoor temperature.
  • Helps you track down unknown or forgotten power consumers in the house.
  • Batteries Included!
  • Nice Stocking STuffer!

Cons:

  • A little too expensive.
  • Will it hold up to foul whether?
  • You have to do some detective work to zero in on some power consuming devices.
  • The device can be a little finicky… such as the light button not working on Paul’s unit and Brian’s unit sometime losing wireless connectivity.

Listen to Podcast for complete details of our review.

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