You aim to save on electricity and lessen your carbon footprint. You often unplug appliances and have since switched to CFLs. But how do you measure your energy use?
Yes, that Energy Star-certified washing machine says you’ll be using 25 per cent less power – but it can’t tell you how many watts that’ll be. You can also compare your electricity bill every month to see if your efforts are working – but you still won’t get an accurate reading. The thing is, you won’t know for sure unless you enlist the aid of a gadget or software program.
Don’t like guesstimates? Here’s how other consumers worldwide find out how much power they use at home.
Unlike traditional gas and electric meters that only tell you how much energy was consumed, smart meters can tell you when the energy was consumed. This helps you know your energy-using habits so you can manage them better. Seeing how much power you use in a day can also push you to exert even more effort in saving electricity (or gas, or even water!).
Smart meters can be plug-in (like the Kill-A-Watt) or wireless (like Wattson). Prices range from practical to pricey, depending on the features.
Kill-A-Watt is plugged into an outlet to find out just how many kilowatts is being used by that specific outlet.
Wattson has two devices: one that stays near the power source, and another you can bring with you wherever you go inside the house. The latter allows you to check if the microwave is using more energy than the toaster oven at that time.
It can store up to 28 days of data, and can easily be hooked to its companion “Holmes” so you can track your energy use on your PC. (Holmes can help you compare daily, weekly and monthly energy use.)
Wattson can also help you measure electricity generated from renewable energy sources, in case you have solar panels on your roof.
Smart meters measure the amount of energy an appliance uses. But what if you could collate and measure the energy used in the entire house? That’s what whole-house power monitors do: It lets you know how much electricity your entire home uses and what it’s costing you.
Products being used in the United States include Home Joule and Power2Save. Home Joule plugs into an outlet and combines the home’s energy consumption rate with other data (like local utility costs, time of use, even the weather) to determine if you’re using too much energy. Power2Save is installed in an electrical panel in the house, and displays how much energy is being used and how much it will cost.
Other devices, such as the Black & Decker Power Monitor, helps you save money by letting you know when’s the best time to turn on the lights, appliances and devices.
Want to monitor your energy use and save money without having to add more devices on your already-growing gadget list? Well, Singapore is one of the first countries in Asia to test-run smart grid power systems.
Smart grids are digitally enabled electrical grids that gather information from users (both suppliers and consumers), then act on this information with a two-way communication technology connected to devices on the grid.
Think of it this way: Since electricity has been made into a commodity, electric (and water) companies would send a worker to your house to monitor and check the electric or water meter. A smart grid, which is computerised, can check each house’s energy consumption and note down the time and day that amount of energy was used. Armed with that kind of data, smart grids can determine how much energy each home needs. This means energy is distributed – and used – efficiently.
The smart grid system is already being used in Italy and some key cities in North America. Singapore has been conducting smart grid research tests since 2010. The Nanyang Technological University has tied up with JTC Corporation and Royal Philips Electronics to develop Singapore’s largest smart-lighting test-bed. If that project is a success, you could expect to save up to 45 per cent of energy in lighting alone.
Worker's Party Chairman Sylvia Lim has challenged Dr Teo Ho Pin to make a report to the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) if he believes that the WP had mismanaged the Town Council.