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Awareness of energy use is the first step in making some efficiency improvements within the home. Utility bills do not typically make it easy to break down where, how and when a home may be wasting energy. Fortunately there are some ways around this that not only produce awareness, but real energy savings as well.
Project EcoHouse will investigate some of these technologies that provide residents with critical feedback on their energy use as well as analyzing the EcoHouse's own energy use as much as possible. Tracking energy use through energy monitoring will allow the EcoHouse to function as a "live-in" laboratory for testing the energy savings and cost-effectiveness of various renovations and green technologies.
Analysis of the data through classes, lab work or independent research projects will also turn the raw information into a useful form, giving students applied work while providing pertinent information from a truly lived-in house in Minnesota. Our results will directly inform future EcoHouse work and be made available. Through this process we hope to inform affordable housing advocates all over the upper Midwest and highlight region specific efficiency solutions.
Consumer Monitoring Devices
TED (The Energy Detective) 1000
The EcoHouse is not yet equipped with a sophisticated energy monitoring system. We have installed a real-time electricity monitor in the house called "The Energy Detective" or TED. This meter gives residents a measure of how much electricity and money they are using at every moment, responding to moment-by-moment changes in a home's electricity use. The responsiveness challenges users to "beat the meter" and drive it as low as possible. This allows the system to result in real savings merely by providing consumption information. The latest version of this meter, the 1001 allows for downloading of data to a PC. This device does require installation by an electrician.
How Does it Work? TED is a device that measures the total electrical consumption of a house through a direct sensor in the breaker box. It consists of two units: a sensor and a reader. An electrician installs the sensor inside the breaker box and the reader is plugged into any outlet in the home, where it receives energy data through the house wiring and displays it. In addition to showing instantaneous energy usage, it can also calculate price by entering electricity rate information into its memory. It also counts cumulative electricity use and cost by day and month and projects monthly cost and usage from averages. Other features include voltage reading and alarms for watts, price, voltage or other variables. This product is meant to be a comprehensive meter to provide homeowners with detailed information about total electricity used in a house.
Kill A Watt
This is a simple device that plugs into any outlet that allows for the measuring of the electricity of an individual appliance or an entire power strip. It will display real-time usage and can also be left in an outlet where it will calculate cumulative energy use over time. This is especially useful when measuring the average consumption of a refrigerator or other devices that cycle on and off.
Powercost Monitor (not in house)
This device is another commonly available meter that measures whole house electricity usage like the TED monitor, but allows for easy installation without an electrician. It uses a digital reader placed onto the homeowners existing electrical meter to transmit usage information to the wireless receiver inside. The advantage to this device is that it does not require a direct installation by an electrician, but can be easily installed by any homeowner. Both the reader and the receiver, however, do require batteries to run and has a relatively slower response time.
Solar Hot Water Monitoring
The solar hot water system in the EcoHouse feeds directly into the original gas hot water heater, acting as a preheat for the system. A gas and water meter was installed just for the hot water heater to give insight into gas heated vs. solar heated water that is used in the house. By keeping track of these meters, project members will be able to evaluate the cost effectiveness of our solar hot water system.
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