While walking through Lowe’s this weekend, we saw a new end display of products for monitoring energy usage.  One of the new products on display was the Kill-o-watt, which we were happy to see is now available locally – we looked everywhere for one a couple of years ago and finally had to order online since none of the local retailers carried them.  Also on the same display were two new products from Black and Decker – a Power Monitor and a Thermal Leak Detector – and the TED 5000 Energy Monitor.  The energy monitors really caught our attention since we’re always curious about how much power we’re using and what the biggest usage items are.

Both of the energy monitors at Lowe’s are for measuring the usage of the entire household.  After doing some research online, we went back today and purchased the Black and Decker Power Monitor.  What we found is that the Black and Decker model includes a sensor that straps on the power monitor (a list of supported power meters is available here) and then a wireless display for reading the real-time usage.  The TED 5000 model includes two clamps and a “gateway” that needs to be installed in the main electrical panel.  Usage information is then communicated to a wireless display and can also be tracked using Google PowerMeter.

We decided on the Black & Decker Power Monitor because we preferred to install the sensor on the meter outside than mess with the electrical panel downstairs.  After researching online, we also found that it is actually the same product as the Blue Line Innovations Power Cost Monitor and there’s also a Blue Line Innovations WiFi gateway for tracking the usage over time on the Microsoft Hohm website.

Black & Decker Power Sensor

Wireless Display

We installed the power monitor this afternoon and have been monitoring our energy consumption pretty closely for the last couple of hours.  The device seems to be pretty accurately displaying our usage and adjusting as the refrigerator, dehumidifier, pool pump, etc. turn on and off.  It’s really interesting to see the real-time energy information, but we think the true value is in being able to graph the usage over time and use that information to adjust the timer for the pool pump or the programming of our thermostats.  So, we’ve placed an order with New Egg for the WiFi gateway that will allow us to view the usage (real-time and historical) on the Microsoft Hohm website.  The gateway should hopefully come yet this week, so we’re hoping to have it up and running by next weekend.

So far, we’re pretty happy with the purchase – and we’re excited to see how much of a difference we can make in our energy usage after getting a better feel for what our usage looks like over time .

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