Monitoring home energy consumption


Power monitoring and home automation systems are coming to mainstream consumers. The New York Times covers the latest technologies (annoying login required) that improve and monitor energy efficiency in the home. As energy use and costs continue to increase, companies are popping up to offer cheaper solutions that will help consumers monitor energy usage, and decrease it simultaneously. Companies like Zigbee offer wireless protocols to track usage, and “smart metering” systems can communicate with appliances to reduce unnecessary energy usage.

Home automation systems can be set up to control a single system, such as a home theater, or multiple systems throughout a home, like audio, lighting, and temperature. Control4 offers controllers that will allow consumers to regulate their lighting, blinds, and temperature in their homes. Smart meters such as Echelon’s NES system offers users some great features, such as the ability to provide automated reads of electric and gas meters, and enabling load shedding during peak consumption periods, by controlling appliances like air conditioners and water heaters. By allowing the consumers to determine and control how much energy they use, they can successfully reduce their energy consumption levels a significant amount, but whether it’s worth the cost of investment remains to be seen. Although the prices of home automation systems have dropped from over $30,000 to about $5,000, it’s still much more than most consumers can afford.

We’ve covered home automation tools before. We like them because they’re still way more affordable than the offerings available, and the technology is more transparent. If you’ve got a creative and cheap solution to monitoring energy consumption, we’d love to hear it.

[via Waxy]

10 thoughts on “Monitoring home energy consumption

  1. [.... monitoring and home automation systems are coming to mainstream consumers. The New York Times covers the latest technologies (annoying login required) that ...]

    surely, you must have heard of “bugmenot.com”??

  2. Am I the only one that saw NES mentioned in the post and thought someone hacked an 8-Bit Nintendo into a Home Automation System? Meh, guess I’ll have to be satisfied with Atari Jaguars being turned into Dental Imagers.

  3. Bang on about home automation being a great way to get into energy monitoring on the cheap… but where is the “hack factor” in this article? *grin* When I go looking for home automation gear I want stuff that has a well defined and accessible network interface. And NOTE both hardware and software must be accessible. It must also have documentation freely available (or be self evident on inspection). These criteria have steered me ever more towards Modbus RS485 interfaces. Modbus used to be an expensive industrial protocol. Now it is available on just about any microcontroller and /further/ any meter manufacturer worth their salt will have a Modbus interface (even REALLY cheap meters – hint hint). And even more Modbus on RS485 is easy to convert to ModbusTCP so that you can speak to it with any TCP/IP stack and applications. Now that’s hackable *grin*.

    Wireless combined with power electric (read grounds, shields and safe enclosures) will make your life hellish. Inscrutable oddball protocols will also mangle you.

    Give me a Modbus thermostat like
    http://www.temcocontrols.com/

    Tell me how to get Modbus from a Kill A Watt (P3) and that will make my day *grin*
    http://www.p3international.com/products/special/P4400/P4400-CE.html

  4. Hello everyone, I’ve been a long time reader of this page and it is awesome. I just saw this article and some one mentioned TED and thought I’d mention that a new model of TED is going to be released with in a few month that has Zigbee support and load shedding. Can’t go too much into details but its going to basically have everything people have asked for in the old model.

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