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Any examples of real-time energy measurement in homes?

  1. Sep 14, 2011 #1
    Any examples of real-time energy measurement in homes???

    Hi :-)

    My professor told me that he thinks that if people are made more aware of the energy they consume in each action they perform (e.g the amt of electrical energy consumed by heating the stove for 15 mins..and such day to day actions) INSTANTANEOUSLY(as soon as the consumption is made) then they might be conscious about judicious use of energy.

    e.g he told me that there is a type of car called 'prius' which is a hybrid electro car and it gives the instantaneous miles /gallon of fuel consumption AS we hit or release the accelerator.

    He thinks if we install similar devices in home appliances, it might make people more conscious about their energy consumption real time .

    The question is that : is there any current technology that we can use to measure the energy consumption in homes (in individual appliances or in the home as a whole) in real time (i.e. as soon as the consumption is made) ?

    Please give suggestions...I want to give him some good feed back on this statement and give examples if this kind of thing is being practiced today.

    If you don't have examples of already existing devices, please suggest how we could implement this in future.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 14, 2011 #2

    Pengwuino

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    Re: Any examples of real-time energy measurement in homes???

    Holy crap are there.

    https://www.wattsupmeters.com/secure/products.php?pn=0

    I use the watts up power meter.

    Check out http://www.smarthome.com and just look for "power meter". There are a ton of products I've seen over the years.

    The problem is people do need to have some context as to what they're measuring. The Watts Up can take data up to god knows how long (months?) and tell you a real average over that time. However, if you stick it on a dryer and notice the thing showing 4,000W (acutally I don't think the meter supports this amount), they might think "Holy crap this uses as much as my air conditioner" when in fact, you raaaaarely use a dryer whereas an AC unit is on for much longer times and is seasonal.

    I actually have a presentation tomorrow for my students and one calculation showed that a dryer probably uses as much energy per year as your refrigerator even though they have vastly different power usages when turned on.
     
  4. Sep 14, 2011 #3
    Re: Any examples of real-time energy measurement in homes???

    In your opinion - have you recovered your investment for the device - in energy savings (yet)?
     
  5. Sep 14, 2011 #4

    Ryan_m_b

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    Re: Any examples of real-time energy measurement in homes???

    A university in the UK is claiming to have built the greenest building in the world with its new student halls. Apart from being designed with hundreds of energy saving measures build in it also has a system which monitors in real time energy consumption. Not only that but every flat's score is ranked and everyone can see it, the idea being to create a competitive environment. It's not stated but I assume there are prizes for being the most energy efficient, if not they may find the competition working the other way;

    Student X "Damn flat B is using more energy than us still"
    Student Y "Quickly! Boil some water, turn on the stove and heater (open the window of course) microwave some beer..."

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-14881474
     
  6. Sep 14, 2011 #5

    IMP

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    Re: Any examples of real-time energy measurement in homes???

    I can provide some feedback on a related topic: Real Time gas mileage display in my vehicle. So I bought a Scan Gauge II and installed it in my vehicle. It has many different functions and display possibilities but the one I watch the closest is the real-time gas mileage (as well as the average gas mileage). It has changed my driving habits! I really do find that I keep trying to get that number to raise up as much as possible. I went from averaging about 22 MPG to around 25MPG in just the first month.

    Real-time feedback does seem to work as far as energy usage is concerned. And if you could put the energy usage in dollar format, I think it would change anyone's habits.
     
  7. Sep 14, 2011 #6

    Ryan_m_b

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    Re: Any examples of real-time energy measurement in homes???

    That doesn't sound to hard, especially if it's linked to the car's GPS. Then it could tell you things like "Now entering Exampleville where the local fuel price is X" and you see a corresponding change in activity.
     
  8. Sep 14, 2011 #7
    Re: Any examples of real-time energy measurement in homes???

    I've experienced the same thing with my wife's new Fiesta - (not that I get to drive it very often) we compete to see who can increase the MPG results. However, electric is a bit different. I think a system that flashed a message just before you make a decision (perhaps based on past usage of that item and by monitoring current real time usage) - let you know the consequences of your decision - might be more effective.
     
  9. Sep 14, 2011 #8

    Evo

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    Re: Any examples of real-time energy measurement in homes???

    Homework type/related questions belong in the homework forum.
     
  10. Sep 14, 2011 #9

    russ_watters

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    Re: Any examples of real-time energy measurement in homes???

    I just bought one of these a few weeks ago: http://www.smarthome.com/90414/Ener...5002-C-2-Panel-Power-Monitoring-System/p.aspx

    Haven't had a chance to install it yet though.
    I certainly will not with mine, but as an engineer, this is as much an academic exercise for me than anything. I'm actually going to use mine to try to develop a water-cooling retrofit for my air conditioner. A very crude trial got me 175W of savings, measured with a clamp-on ammeter. If I can develop it successfully, I may even try to patent and market it. But in my current house, I have no hope of ever recovering the development cost. That's kinda outside the scope of the thread, though....
    Many cars have them and any car built in the past few decades can be retrofitted with one. I bought one of these for my car: http://www.scangauge.com/

    To the thesis question, the answer is that I know I've attempted to drive more efficiently while using it (I and others have likened it to playing an efficiency video game while driving) and I've definitely noticed an improvement in fuel economy since before I got it, but I can't quantify the amount very accurately and can't isolate the savings due to the device from savings due to other effects, such as driving slower because I'm getting older. However, lets try:

    I drive a 2004 Mazda 6 with about 150k miles on it. I probably have had the ScanGauge for 100k of that. I'm sure I've gotten better fuel economy than before I had it, but I don't know that I can pin the estimate down to better than 1-3mpg (I'd be very surprised if I saved less than 1mpg because of it) on a car that probably started at 28mpg. However, the effect of going from 28-29 mpg would be a savings of 123 gallons. So at, say, an average of $3 a gallon over that time, I've already paid it back twice over.

    It can also diagnose and reset a check-engine light and though I've joked about it, I have yet to start a side-business for that -- it's all been pro-bono.

    [edit] Er - so that's a second vote for the Scan Gauge after IMP's post....
    A $$/minute might be tough, but the Scan Gauge does give you $$/trip, tank and day.
    Ehh, I like the direct approach of the Scan Gauge: it has you input the cost of the gas the last time you filled-up.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 26, 2017
  11. Sep 15, 2011 #10
    Re: Any examples of real-time energy measurement in homes???

    Hi,

    Thanks for the input...its GREAT!!

    I noticed how lots of people said that the idea was good, as seen already in cars.

    However,I'm very seriously considering the points raised by Penguino and briefly by Russ Waters, that --

    1. different appliances, esp in houses consume at the same rate, but are used on different time scales, so it doesn't give us an idea of how much we should actually try and reduce usage.

    Also, I think as Russ waters mentioned, if the meter gives us decisions based on past usage and gives us a consequence of our action, it will be more fruitful. Is there any meter currently in use? If not, is there any technology today using which we could develop such a meter?

    Thanks a tonne.
    Regards,
    Urmi.

    P.S If anyone thinks they have a better solution as to how to reduce energy consumption in homes, please give me ideas on that.

    Any other ideas as also welcome
     
  12. Sep 15, 2011 #11

    russ_watters

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    Re: Any examples of real-time energy measurement in homes???

    Most meters give both power and energy. Please look at the links provided.
     
  13. Sep 15, 2011 #12
    Re: Any examples of real-time energy measurement in homes???

    Hi,
    I went through the links and copied the information I wanted.

    I also asked a few people around as to what they think about the thesis.

    Some of the disadvantageous aspects of the real time energy measurement setup they mentioned were-

    1. Installation into homes is expensive and may require payback for many years.

    2. The many values displayed for each separate appliance, if we use something like a watts up meter for each appliance may baffle customers.

    How do you think we could address these problems?
     
  14. Sep 16, 2011 #13
    Re: Any examples of real-time energy measurement in homes???

    No opinions on these points?
     
  15. Sep 17, 2011 #14
    Re: Any examples of real-time energy measurement in homes???

    Two more points...
    1. As mentioned somewhere in this post, the power meters sometimes don't read power consumption below a above a certain threshold value. What could we do to counter this problem?

    2. Again, some people just may not be motivated enough, people may not heed the info displayed by the meter. Is there any direct solution (like in a modification of the existing power meters or any new technology) for this issue?
     
  16. Sep 17, 2011 #15
    Re: Any examples of real-time energy measurement in homes???

    One solution is for the utilities to start installing "smart" meters. I think there have been some programs that have done this on a limited scale. One of the ideas, if I recall correctly, is that if utilities communicate in real-time with homes they can adjust pricing based on current demand and people will be able to see that electricity is cheaper and turn on their laundry machines.

    I also wonder if companies doing solar installations could find a way to incorporate power metering. The inverters that solar panels use now often include a web interface that allows you to see just how much power you're panels are producing, but perhaps while they're wiring the panels (usually grid-tied) they could install smart power metering for the house?
     
  17. Sep 17, 2011 #16

    Pengwuino

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    Re: Any examples of real-time energy measurement in homes???

    No. Similar to russ, I bought mine mainly as an academic exercise. I wanted to see how much my computers were using because that's not easily determined. I also bought a fairly expensive one (not as expensive as the one Russ linked). Most items in my house I could easily determine their power usage. In my opinion, any decently aware scientist/engineer should have some idea as to what uses power and what doesn't or how to quickly determine that value.

    On second thought, I use to run my PCs 24/7 and when I checked their power usage while it was on overnight, a quick calculation showed that that was a massive amount of money over time. So actually, yes, it has definitely recovered my investment many times over!

    Well, those meters will definitely tell you what you need to know if you let them (the meters) run for a while. The really important thing is to find out your average kWh/month or year usage. This is what you're paying for, this is the energy used averaged out so that you know how much something is costing you regardless of what the details are as far as how often they're used.

    The first is simple, don't buy an expensive meter. Really, you can use 1 meter and just use a device, record it for a week, determine its kWh/month or whatever usage, and then move on to the next appliance. Some tests could be even more trivial then that. You probably have a very good idea how often you use your TV per day. So you can go up to your TV, install the meter, find out it's taking up 100W or whatever, and do the math immediately to figure out the kWh/month it takes up. This is because, unlike something like an air conditioner or refrigerator, you have a very good idea how long the thing is actually on.

    A refrigerator, for example, at any given moment may have its compressor turned on or off and you'll get drastically different wattage readings if you just randomly decide to check it to take a reading instead of averaging it out.
     
  18. Sep 17, 2011 #17
    Re: Any examples of real-time energy measurement in homes???

    That's interesting. Do you recall any of the numbers - I've been wondering how much all of these machines are adding to my bill. I posted this in another thread back in July - been at war with my electric bill.

    "The last 2 years I WISH my electric bill was $600 in the summer - central a/c, 7 tv's/cable boxes, electric stove, 4+ computers, washing machine @ 2+ loads/day and equal dryer runs, 6-7 ceiling fans, swimming pool filter, 2 refrigerators, sandwich cooler, 2 freezers, beer cooler, Pepsi bottle cooler, deck lights, security lights, 14 chargers (I counted), an average of 6 light bulbs ALWAYS ON (again I counted), garage door opener, toaster and toaster oven, 2 microwaves, 2 commercial blender, commercial ice machine, ..."
     
  19. Sep 17, 2011 #18
    Re: Any examples of real-time energy measurement in homes???

    The smart meter that Russ waters mentioned is some $300....I don't understand why its difficult to pay back $300...am I missing something?

    But that doesn't serve the purpose...the thesis was that so we could see which device consumes how much and we could thus decided which ones we ought to reduce our usage of (if possible) and which ones not to.

    As per JaWiB 's suggestion, I've asked some solar panel- selling companies if they have meters which could have utilities-customer communication and hence give an idea of costs aswell as energy consumption....lets see what response get.z
     
  20. Sep 17, 2011 #19
    Re: Any examples of real-time energy measurement in homes???

    JaWiB, one person I asked about this mentioned that "real-time pricing may offer the potential for instabilities (violent up / down swings) which may scare government people and regulators. History of Enron and deregulation in the U.S. may be related. "

    How much do you agree to this?
     
  21. Sep 19, 2011 #20
    Re: Any examples of real-time energy measurement in homes???

    Please see my last two posts...I need to address these problems in the thesis.
     
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