Sleuthing for Solutions: Become an Energy Detective

Reaching for Higher Fruit

Even after reaching the $200 mark, I thought I could do better but didn’t know where to start. Wondering where all the energy was going, I invested in a real-time electricity submetering system for about $300. I installed the system in an afternoon by watching YouTube videos and following the instructions. It was actually pretty easy to install the clamp-on meters around the main electrical feeds (please be careful if you do this) and it was literally plug and play. You may need to buy a few dual pole circuit breakers, but that’s about it.

I used a product called The Energy Detective (TED) which allowed me to see real-time kW consumption and a whole bunch of other data (see the screenshots). I also downloaded a free app that displays the kW draw on my iPhone. This was handy because I quickly determined the kW draw of most major appliances by turning them on and off at the circuit breaker. Once that was done, I assigned load profiles for the major appliances and the TED system can guess when and which devices are on.

The next weekend, our family went on a road trip so I turned off the HVAC before we left. When I got back, I looked at the data and was intrigued by what was occurring while no one was home. The purple bars in the attached graph show the net kWh consumption, which was consistently about 22 kWh/day. If you do the math, this really isn’t that much, but the point is that it could be lower.

With a few clicks, I was able to investigate further and determine that the electric hot water heaters were coming on frequently (about every hour) all night, essentially heating water that nobody was going to use while we were away. The water heater graph shows this.

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