When it comes to the social and economical development of the world, electricity plays a vital role. However, the production of electric energy stems primarily from fossil fuels. The world’s dependency on this limited resource and the greenhouse gas emissions that it leaves behind shows us that the current situation is unsustainable.
A vital role in minimizing the environmental consequences of energy production belongs to consumers. Nowadays, advancements in computing and electronics have made a plethora of technological solutions financially available to regular people.
These solutions are the key to a sustainable future, and one of them is the whole-house energy monitoring system (WHEMS). Besides contributing to sustainability, energy monitors also give the users a better idea of how they’re spending electric energy.
In the following paragraphs, we’ll be taking a closer look at the purpose and benefits of whole-house energy monitoring systems. If you’re looking to install one in your home, you’re in the right place – keep reading.
- 1 What are Whole-House Energy Monitoring Systems?
- 2 How Do They Work?
- 3 How to Interpret the Energy Monitor Readings?
- 4 What are the Advantages?
- 4.1 Your carbon footprint will be reduced
- 4.2 You’ll become more aware of the energy you’re using
- 4.3 You’ll have a better idea of how much money you’re spending on electricity
- 4.4 You’ll be able to accurately predict energy usage
- 4.5 You’ll be able to spot appliances you forgot to switch off
- 4.6 You’ll think twice before using high-energy devices
- 4.7 You’ll start making energy-efficient changes around the house
- 5 What are the Disadvantages?
- 6 What to Look for in Whole-House Energy Monitoring Systems?
- 7 Conclusion
What are Whole-House Energy Monitoring Systems?
These systems fall under the HEMS (home energy management systems) umbrella and use smart technology. They help users control and manage their energy output. Therefore, they can be of great help to those who’d like to reduce the costs.
A whole-house energy monitoring system can provide you with intel on where and how the electricity is used on your property. They zone in on the crucial areas where a homeowner is using the most energy. They can also determine the areas which use the least electricity.
With this knowledge, a homeowner can figure out which steps to take in order to reduce energy costs. These systems come in several different types, such as 3-phase, solar, wireless, and online variants.
How Do They Work?
Sensors are a vital part of every whole-house energy monitoring system, no matter the brand. They are used at all measurement points throughout the house.
In other words, if you have 10 appliances that use electric energy in your home, your WHEMS could have a sensor at each of them. This provides the user with intel on energy use on each of those appliances.
A sensor located at a high-usage appliance, such as the freezer, provides the homeowner with info on how much electricity the freezer is consuming. In almost all cases, the results can be monitored on a digital display.
With this knowledge, you can take the necessary steps to reduce the cost. You could match foods to the right microclimate, open the doors less frequently, or simply get a more economical model.
How to Interpret the Energy Monitor Readings?
These systems are manufactured to display readings in watts. A watt is a derived unit of 1 joule per second. For example, a reading of 20 watts means that a device is using 20 joules of electricity per second.
This information will assist you in making smarter decisions on how to use a particular home appliance. It will also help you determine if a brand works for you, or if it should be replaced.
Homeowners often refuse to replace high-usage devices with more efficient ones. As you can already guess, this leads to unnecessary spending in the long term.
What are the Advantages?
Your carbon footprint will be reduced
As mentioned in the intro, whole-house energy monitoring systems contribute to sustainability. By using such a system in your household, you’ll probably take some steps towards reduced power consumption. This, in turn, leads to a reduced carbon footprint.
You’ll become more aware of the energy you’re using
Due to the fact that these systems can display the household’s overall energy use, you will become more aware of your energy use.
This is especially true for people who decide to place their energy monitors in visible places. If you put your energy monitor into the living room or hallway, you’ll be taking a look at it every time you walk past. This can give you a better idea of your day-to-day electricity use.
You’ll have a better idea of how much money you’re spending on electricity
These systems can also show electricity use in money. Therefore, they can help you get a better idea of how much you’re spending on electricity. Some models even let the user set a monthly budget. This allows the homeowners to see if they’re on track to meet their weekly or monthly targets.
You’ll be able to accurately predict energy usage
Advanced systems made it easy to budget wisely. With a WHEMS installed in your home, you won’t only be able to track the use of electricity but also to predict it. You’ll be able to accurately predict the size of your next electricity bill, which is vital in households with large families.
You’ll be able to spot appliances you forgot to switch off
Another convenient feature of these systems is that they can alert the homeowner about devices he or she forgot to turn off.
Next time you’re about to leave the house for work, take a look at the energy monitor. If the readings are higher than usual, you may have forgotten to turn some appliances off. Switch them off before you leave and your next electricity bill won’t be as high.
You’ll think twice before using high-energy devices
This doesn’t mean you should stop using appliances like the tumble dryer. A whole-house energy monitoring system will help you become more mindful when using high-energy appliances. Next time, you’ll be drying five fuller loads instead of ten half-full loads.
You’ll start making energy-efficient changes around the house
As you’re able to see how much energy you’re spending, you’ll start taking positive steps towards optimal use.
Even the smallest ones, like switching to LED bulbs, count towards the end results. Many people using WHEMS end up replacing entire appliances with more efficient alternatives, saving a lot of money in the process.
Make sure to check out my post on different ways to save electricity around the house.
What are the Disadvantages?
Advanced systems can be expensive
Some of the more advanced energy monitoring systems can be quite costly. This is especially true for the ones that dive deep into the home’s electricity use. The prince range is vast, ranging from $20 to $500.
They can be expensive to install
The installation of these intricate systems is typically done by contractors. Some types take a lot of time and knowledge to install properly, and nobody is going to do that for a low fee.
Some systems may not be compatible with your other systems
Some WHEMS are incompatible with various home automation systems. In most cases, this creates far more hassle than benefit. Ensure that the system you want is compatible before you make the purchase.
What to Look for in Whole-House Energy Monitoring Systems?
Not all WHEMS are created equal. If you’ve decided to purchase this system and install it in your home, consider the following factors:
Unless you know how circuit breakers work, letting an electrician complete the installation is a better idea. Many models are advertised as “easy to install”, but it’s better to stay away from potential shock hazards.
Contracting a qualified professional may increase the overall cost, but you’ll get that money back through the use of the system.
Real-time cost tracking
Some systems of this type allow the user to track the consumption of electric energy in real-time. This feature will let you watch as the consumption goes up and down. It’s also of great help when it comes to understanding the consequences of turning appliances on and off.
If you really want to save as much money as possible, look for a WHEMS with this functionality. Fortunately, most modern systems sport this feature out of the box.
Your household devices use electricity in a unique way. Some WHEMS come with a special device recognition feature. By plugging into the circuit breakers, this feature can detect various household appliances and report on their actions.
Not all WHEMS feature this function. What’s more, even those that do never have it working perfectly. For a WHEMS with this feature, differentiating a fridge from a TV will be easy. However, the same cannot be said for differentiating appliances that use electric energy in similar ways (like heating devices, for example).
If you’re using a home solar system (or you’re planning to install one), consider getting a solar-ready WHEMS. It will allow you to monitor how much electricity your solar panels are producing and how is this energy used.
Mobile apps and notifications
Advanced energy monitoring systems can be connected to mobile apps. With such a system, you’ll be able to get notifications such as warnings on abnormal use or tips for further saving.
If you want to be up-to-date on your electricity consumption at all times, choose a WHEMS with this functionality.
As you can see from above, the advantages of whole-house energy monitoring systems greatly outweigh the drawbacks. Not only do WHEMS promote sustainability, but they also bring a number of benefits that can help you save money in the long term.
Read my review of the Fluke 323 as well. I’ve also written a post for those who are asking themselves, “How Often Should I Test my Portable Appliance?” We also have a guide explaining what an Arch Flash study is.