Setting a goal to consume less electricity without tracking your consumption is a lot like wanting to build up your savings account without keeping an eye on your purchasing habits. Sure, you can always just resolve to “spend less,” but you’ll likely be more successful if you understand how and when you’re spending your hard-earned money.
The same is true with your energy bill. It’ll be easier to consume less power when you understand your household’s consumption habits.
A few years ago tracking a household’s energy use would have been a fairly difficult process. A person would have to read the wattage label of every appliance and lightbulb in the house, do the math to figure out how much power each consumed, then track how often every person in the house used those appliances. A day’s worth of monitoring would reveal some information, but for a more realistic picture, they’d probably have to do it for a week or longer.
Fortunately, things have changed. What once took several days and a lot of math, is now available in minutes. Today’s utility customers can spend less time crunching numbers and more time enjoying lowered energy expenses.
How precisely you want to know your habits is a matter of personal preference. Will it be enough for you to get a general idea of how you’re using power or would you like to know the destination of every watt that moves through your walls? That self-knowledge will determine which monitoring approach is the right one.
The Clark Public Utilities Home Energy Calculator is a great place to start. It’s a free resource that you can access anytime. There are two versions to use. The more general of the two is available through the utility’s main website. The second and more personalized version is accessed through by logging into MyAccount.
After incorporating some information about your home, it will give you a good idea of how your household uses energy throughout the year. It’ll give a snapshot of your electric costs and how different investments or habits can help lower your energy bill. As with other similar products, the accuracy of your results are dictated by how much information you enter into the energy calculator.
It’s a handy tool for any consumer, but it is just one of many.
The advancement of smart home technology means customers have many options to track their energy consumption.
A few smartphone or tablet apps will also do the job, with a unique approach. Some may require you to measure and record individual appliances, while others will estimate your energy consumption based on local data. Many will have a one-time fee or require a subscription. Whichever you choose, it’ll be wise to read the reviews to understand how accurate it is before you invest.
If you want a very precise look at your usage and an immediate start to savings, Energy Star, possibly the most widely recognized name in energy efficiency, recently announced a new program for Smart Home Energy Management Systems.
The program recognizes smart home systems that simplify, reduce and manage a household’s energy consumption. The program applies to smart home devices and services that are centrally managed and can be controlled and customized by home users.
Energy Star-certified management system packages are required to include a smart thermostat, two smart lights or smart switches that measure energy use, and a plug load monitor/control—something like a smart power strip, smart plug or circuit monitor. Adding additional smart appliances and devices to the system grows the body of information. For more information, visit Energystar.gov or smartgrid.gov.
No matter which route you choose, knowledge is power that will set you on the road to energy savings.
Energy Adviser is produced by Clark Public Utilities and relies on the expertise of utility energy counselors and staff, who provide conservation and energy use information. To contact us call 360-992-3355, email email@example.com or visit www.clarkpublicutilities.com.