Thoughts on Electricity

November 27th, 2007

I installed the TED Model 1000 in my house last week and the results have been interesting, if not revelatory. The device hooks into my circuit breaker panel and has a separate display that plugs into any outlet in the house. When set up, it shows exactly how much electricity we consume, updated every second. I can add the rates I pay and see how much I am spending on a per-second basis as well. It is fascinating to see the difference when we turn on/off a single light.

I have a couple of observations from a week of using the thing:

1) We have a usage “baseline”, or several actually. In the middle of the night (grr, insomnia) with all the lights out and everything closed down, we have an ambient drain of about 0.15 kwh. During the day, even with all the lights off, it is higher- more like 0.6 kwh. I haven’t figured out why this is exactly. I’m starting to suspect that the refrigerator works harder in daytime when it gets opened and closed regularly.

2) Savings will come from a few big changes like trying to use the dishwasher less (or maybe not at all), and a lot of small ones. I tend to leave lights (or music) on in a room if I leave, but know I’ll reenter in a couple of minutes. I can now quantify exactly how much that costs me and I’m inclined to do it less.

I also have a wish: the device has a USB port, but apparently it isn’t functional. I’d really love to work through the data in greater detail on my computer, so I wish the TED’s makers would turn on the port and build some software to let me analyze consumption patterns.

I’d also like more granularity, but that isn’t realistic. I’d like to see the data measured on a per-outlet basis so I could figure out *exactly* how much energy each electrical device I own draws. That’s beyond the scope of the TED, though.

The TED cost $150, plus a few dollars to have an electrician hook it up. It was a pretty nominal cost for some very interesting data. People say they made up the cost pretty quickly with the money saved on electrical bills. We’ll see how long that takes.

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