From “learning” thermostats to energy saving smartphone apps, it has never been easier to monitor and control your home’s energy use. While we all love doing our part to help the environment, the real draw here is how these simple solutions will help you save money by keeping those monthly energy bills low. Here are just some of many easy home energy-monitoring tools that can help your home run as efficiently as possible.
With air conditioning a must in southwest Florida, many homeowners worry they won’t be able to keep their homes comfortable without their energy bills going through the roof. Luckily, innovations in smart thermostat technology can help you keep your house cool and refreshing without breaking the bank.
Nest Labs offers the Nest Learning Thermostat. This sleek, minimally designed wall thermostat can be adjusted manually in your home or wirelessly from any location through your computer or smartphone. Each time you adjust the thermostat, Nest learns about your temperature preferences and daily life. It then uses this information to help you keep your home at a consistently comfortable temperature while simultaneously saving money on energy costs. For example, it learns to automatically adjust the temperature when you’re away, asleep at night or when the weather unexpectedly changes.
Other similar programmable thermostats include the Ecobee Smart Thermostat, the Honeywell Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat, and the Venstar ColorTouch Thermostat.
Nowadays it seems like there is an app for everything, and home energy management is no exception. Among the many smartphone apps that monitor your home’s energy use is the highly rated Kill-Ur-Watts. It’s a free app that comprehensively monitors your home’s electric energy use by gathering data from your energy provider and relaying that information back to you through user-friendly, easy-to-understand graphs and charts.
Although this information has always been available to the inquisitive consumer through your energy provider, apps like Kill-Ur-Watts make it instantly accessible and easily digestible so you can actually put it to use. For example, it can help you identify what time of day it is cheapest to do your laundry or what appliances are getting neglected and should, therefore, be unplugged. These simple tips will not only improve your home’s efficiency but also cut down on your electric bill.
Similar smartphone energy management apps include PlotWatt, WattBuddy, and Bidgely.
Meter Sensors and Smart Meters
Unlike the smartphone energy monitoring apps, meter sensors and smart meters feed you information directly from your home’s existing energy meter instead of sending data from your energy provider. They monitor every aspect of your electric energy use and continuously send information back to you. This helps you learn exactly when and where your home uses the most energy so you can make informed decisions about how to better manage energy consumption and keep costs down.
Blue Line Innovation offers two different meter sensors. The PowerCost Monitor tracks the cost of running specific appliances and shows where power is being wasted, perhaps in electronics you thought were turned off overnight or while you are at work. The Blue Line Optical Sensor uses optical readers attached to your home meter to monitor your energy use comprehensively and alert you to any problems that could reduce your system’s efficiency, such as clogged air filters.
Smart meters are only available through your utility company and make your home part of the “smart grid.” The smart meters connect homes and utility companies in a two-way information stream with the goal of optimizing energy efficiency for homeowners and utility companies alike. They allow the utility to read the meter remotely so they can then offer you “smart” pricing based what time of day energy is cheapest. Homeowners can also look online or use apps to assess their home energy usage and reduce bills on their own.
These are just a few home energy management products that can help you be a little kinder to the environment, not to mention your wallets, without sacrificing comfort or convenience in the process.
Get more great tips on how to go green and save on energy costs by contacting a Certified Green Professional (CGP) from the directory at nahb.org. The Collier Building Industry Association is affiliated with the National home Builders’ Association.