Homeowners have plenty of ways to reduce their energy use – but how do you know which changes are worthwhile? You can insulate, seal, change thermostats and replace old appliances. You can install solar panels, insulate your water heaters and water pipes, clean your furnace filters and replace shower-heads. But how do you measure the effect of your upgrades?
Energy monitoring systems – electricity monitoring systems, to be more precise – show you exactly where your electrical energy is going, and what it's costing you, says analyst Houston Neal in a recent article on the blog of SoftwareAdvice.com.
“An energy monitoring system can be set up in just 15 minutes, and for as little as $100,” says Neal. Once it's installed, you can turn on an appliance and see at once how much electricity it draws. You can find out what it costs to run that old fridge, to wash and dry a load of laundry, or to use an electric space heater.
The results can be surprising.
One user simply cleaned the coils of the refrigerator and saved $150 a year. Another found some puzzling spikes in his power usage – and discovered that all the laundry done in his building was being billed to him.
Most important, from a green point of view, is the fact that simply seeing where the power is going leads people to make improvements that typically lower their power demand by 12-15%. And that translates into less fossil fuel use by the power company, and fewer greenhouse gas emissions.
Neal's main point is that this same technology can be used to help tenants manage their power costs – and that landlords can gain an advantage in the marketplace by providing it. Commercial landlords have already learned that green buildings are easier to lease, and command higher rents. The same advantages should apply to quality residential units – which would mean that tenants, who generally can't do much to reduce their energy footprints, would actually have an effective tool to do that.
A great idea – for owners, for tenants, and for the planet.