Here’s the PowerCost Monitor from Blueline Innovations in St. John’s Newfoundland. It shows you, at glance, how many kilowatts are being used in your house at any given moment. With the push of a button, it also shows you how much money you’re spending on electricity at the same moment. The numbers produced by the monitor can be very sobering if you’re paying about 19.2 cents per kilowatt-hour, as we are. (That doesn’t include the premium we pay for the 100-percent Connecticut Clean Energy Option.)
There are two components to the system -- the wireless monitor (2 AA batteries) that sits on your counter, and a sensor (2 AA batteries) that you fit to your electric meter. The sensor works on either electromechanical meters with spinning wheels, or electronic meters with digital read-outs. The Blueline website makes matters pretty clear, but you need to know which kind of meter you have. If you have any questions, give Blueline a call.
Our meter, for example, is electromechanical, but the electric company installed a circuit board that lets the meter-reader get numbers from the street. The circuit board obscures the front of the wheel. When we called Blueline, the tech on duty suggested that we try to jury-rig the sensor so that it could pick up the wheel movement from the side of the dome. We did this, with the aid of a couple of big rubber bands and plastic wire ties, then synchronized the sensor and meter, confirmed the signal, entered our electric rate into the monitor, and started getting readings immediately.
We’ve run the PowerCost Monitor for about six weeks, and have checked it against a full-month electric bill. It’s very accurate, and is easy to understand and operate. There are only four buttons, two used to choose displays for money being spent or kilowatts being used, one to clear the monitor and start again from zero, and one to sync the monitor and sensor during set-up.
Here’s why it’s a good thing: You walk past the meter and notice that it’s showing 1.2 kilowatts. You can hear the refrigerator compressor running, and you know you have a tower computer and big screen running in the other room. You have two CFLs on, one over the kitchen sink and one over the dining room table, but they only account for 30 watts together. So you wander around and find that your daughter has left two 60-watt incandescent lights on in her room, and there’s a 100-watt incandescent on for no particular reason in the front hall. You turn off those three lights and go check the monitor. Bingo, you’re down to one kilowatt. Those lights would have run all day with no one home. They would have used about 2.2 kWh, costing about 40 cents. If you’re that heedless every day, it adds up to $146 per year, not to mention the sap on the grid, the pollution, the global warming, and all that.
The PowerCost monitor is a good tool for letting you know what you’re burning and what you’re spending throughout the day. It costs about $150 U.S. Come to think of it, at the rate we’re going, this thing is well on its way to paying for itself.~ Doug Logan, New Energy Watch